How an ambitious effort to overhaul Kansas water management fell short

As the Ogallala Aquifer depletes, agriculture and environmental groups alike agree something must be done.


State News

May 18, 2022 - 3:30 PM

The dry bed of the Arkansas River near the Santa Fe Trail crossing at Cimarron, Kansas. The Ogallala aquifer groundwater levels in much of western Kansas started dropping in the 1950s as pumping increased, according to the Kansas Geological Survey. File Photo / Max McCoy

The dire state of water in western Kansas is not in dispute. The aquifer Kansans out west rely on to irrigate crops and provide drinking water dropped by a foot in 2021

“If you look at charts as to where it was … when they started irrigating and now, it’s alarming,” said the House Water Committee chairman, Rep. Ron Highland, R-Wamego. 

The Ogallala Aquifer has just 10 years left in one county in the extreme western part of the state, where groundwater supplies towns and irrigates crops in an otherwise arid countryside. 

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