Big Bend Groundwater Management District No. 5 is working to achieve an effective resolution to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ("USFWS") impairment complaint on Water Right File No. 7571.
This page is intended to provide information to stakeholders in the area regarding this process.
The District is working with area stakeholders to provide a sustainable remedy to the Quivira NWR impairment complaint. The issue at hand is extremely complex and affects the livelihood of several generations throughout this region. As such, the District is considering every option thoroughly and consulting expert hydrogeologists to ensure that the objectives put forward are effective and based on the best science available.
In October 2019, Senator Jerry Moran's office announced, following a meeting with Aurelia Skipwith, the Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, that Ms. Skipwith committed to work with local stakeholders to find a voluntary solution for the Quivira NWR impairment before requesting KDA-DWR to regulate junior water rights. The full statement can be found here.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued the following statement regarding this issue:
"The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will not make a request for water to the State of Kansas for Quivira National Wildlife Refuge in Fiscal Year 2020. Throughout the year, the Service will continue to work to find local, voluntary, collaborative and non-regulatory solutions, including augmentation, to address the water needs of the community and the wildlife conservation purposes of the refuge before determining if more formal measures are necessary to ensure the refuge's water rights are secured. We look forward to working with the Kansas Department of Agriculture, the Kansas congressional delegation, and all water users to develop concrete milestones and lasting solutions."
The District is leading a team that is in direct discussions with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service leadership. The two parties have met regularly since 2019 to find a local, voluntary, collaborative solution. In a special board meeting on July 24, 2020, the District board approved a Memorandum of Agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that outlines a pathway forward for the resolution for years to come.
The Memorandum of Agreement can be found here.
The work is not yet complete. The District stands committed to working to resolve this issue and is currently working through the Watershed Plan process with NRCS.