History of the KS Water Office with Tracy Streeter

(Jamie) Welcome to Farm Factor! First Kyle and Tracy Streeter talk about the history of the Kansas Water Office.
(Kyle Bauer) Hi, this is Kyle Bauer, had the opportunity to visit with Tracy Streeter. He is the director of the Kansas Water Office. We’re going to visit with Tracy to start with to talk about the history of the Kansas Water Office and the history of water management as far as the state of Kansas goes. Tracy, can you bring us through that history a bit? (Tracy Streeter) Sure. Probably a lot of the water, I guess, public policy and government of the water in Kansas began after the ‘51 flood. There were a number of local units that government created in response to that and then in the late ’70s there was a study commissioned by then Governor Bennett and his lieutenant governor that ultimately suggested that there be what we have now, the Kansas Water Office. And so In 1981 the water office was created, which called for a comprehensive state water plan. It was set up on a water basin basis and we had 12 major river basins that we managed and we had basin plans for each one of them as well as some other sections that looked at state policy recommendations. That’s really the origin of the water office, was back in that era. In the responsibilities of the office that evolved from that is obviously the staff to create the State Water Plan. We also have a Kansas Water Authority that was created at that point in time which had a number of appointed positions by mostly the governor, but there was also some appointees from legislative leadership representing all the various water interesting Kansas. Each of those 12 basins that were created for planning and management also had a local advisory committee that was created as a result of that. That really set the structure for getting citizen input up to the BACs, Basin Advisory Committees, and then the Water Authority had the ultimate responsibility of approving the water plan and make recommendations to the governor and legislature on any policy that needed to be considered by the executive in the legislative branch. (Kyle) As we look at the reservoirs in the state, though, at some point the state of Kansas became part of that management and ownership? (Tracy) That’s correct. Kansas is unique; I think the only of its kind in the nation where the state government has the water supply contracts with the Corps of Engineers at 13 at the reservoirs. Typically there are individual water supplies or industries that have that contract, Cities, Rural Water Districts, etc. We operate a wholesale water utility through a water-marketing program where we take all of our customer base and operate it as a system. We also have water assurance districts that are a companion to that where the folks that are on the Kansas Neosho and Marais des Cygnes River have the ability to purchase storage and operate the river as a system. (Kyle) We’re visiting Tracy Streeter. He’s the director of the Kansas Water Office. On the show today, we’ll be talking more about water-marketing, water storage, management and we’ll be looking at the dredging on John Redmond Reservoir.
(Jamie) Folks, come back after these messages for Kyle and Earl Lewis as they discuss the financial side of the Water Plan.

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