TOPEKA – Governor Laura Kelly and Senator Jerry Moran today celebrated an agreement between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Kansas Department of Agriculture (KDA) to collaborate on a solution to water rights issues surrounding the Rattlesnake Creek Basin. Governor Kelly and Senator Moran have been pushing for the two entities to seek a sustainable and viable solution that secures the USFWS’s senior water right while minimizing the impact on the local economy.
The Rattlesnake Creek Basin has long provided water to the region’s agriculture industry and to migratory and resident wildlife in the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge. The Refuge is managed by the USFWS, which earlier this year renewed its call for water.
The announcement means that USFWS has agreed to conditionally pause its request to secure its senior water right as it directs KDA and local stakeholders to find a practicable and permanent solution to the current impairment.
“I am pleased that both parties have agreed to collaborate on a sustainable solution for all who rely on the Rattlesnake Creek Basin,” Governor Laura Kelly said. “By working together, we can show how agricultural producers and all water rights holders can rise to the challenge to meet our state’s water needs now and into the future.”
In September, Governor Kelly sent a letter to the director of USFWS to work with the KDA’s Division of Water Resources to find a solution to the issue. In the letter, she wrote that a “failure to reach a collaborative and gradual solution will create unnecessary economic hardships for local businesses and communities that will ripple across the state and region.”
Senator Jerry Moran has also called on USFWS to work with KDA toward a solution.
“I appreciate the effort from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to listen to Kansans and hear their concerns with the Rattlesnake Creek Watershed,” said Senator Jerry Moran. “It is important we establish long-term solutions that support the refuge and the regional economy, and I am pleased that all parties are working together towards a sustainable future for the watershed and our Kansas producers.”
A letter from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service informing the Kansas Department of Agriculture of this decision can be found here.