Kansas Water Office director announces retirement

Gov. Jeff Colyer recently announced that Tracy Streeter, director of the Kansas Water Office, will retire Dec. 14. Streeter has served as director since June 2004.

“I am grateful for the vision and leadership of Tracy Streeter,” said Colyer. “His experience at the State Conservation Commission and then serving as a leader for our state’s water issues for more than a decade have left a positive impact on our state. I appreciate the time he devoted to solving our water issues, both surface and ground. Kansas is a leader in the nation on many water issues because of Tracy’s work. I appreciate his years of dedicated service to the people of Kansas.”

During Streeter’s tenure he oversaw the implementation of the Kansas Water Plan, and was asked to lead the “50 Year Water Vision” called for by then-Gov. Sam Brownback in 2013. Streeter oversaw numerous state and federal cooperative efforts, including the successful restoration of water supply storage at John Redmond Reservoir through a large-scale dredging project that was the first of its kind in the nation. He also developed the concept of Water Technology Farms in response to the long-term vision for the future of water supply in Kansas and to address the declining Ogallala Aquifer. These farms have been key public-private partnerships where irrigation technology is demonstrated, related research is conducted on the field scale and water conservation is supported. Streeter has also led the Governor’s Drought Response Team and the Natural Resources Subcabinet, working to increase efficiencies and inter-agency cooperation statewide.

“It has been a pleasure to work for the people of this great state as well as different Governors over the past 33 years. I’m proud of the many water accomplishments we’ve had over the years to help ensure Kansas’ water future,” Streeter shared. “While there is more to be done, I know the team is putting the needs of Kansans first, as water truly is our number one commodity in Kansas.”

In addition to Streeter’s role as KWO director, he was the secretary of the Kansas Water Authority, which provides leadership and guidance to ensure that water policies and programs address the needs of all Kansans.

“I would like to thank Tracy for his work for the citizens of Kansas, first with his work with State Conservation Commission for many years and most recently as director of the Kansas Water Office where I have had the privilege of working with him for the past 8 years in my role as chairman of the KWA,” said Gary Harshberger, Kansas Water Authority chairman. “This has given me a great appreciation for the talent and passion of the people we have working for us at the state level. Tracy is one of a kind in this arena and his leadership will be deeply missed. He, and many others, have worked tirelessly on creating and implementing Gov. Brownback’s “50 Year Water Vision” for the future health and prosperity of Kansas. We will proceed on in this endeavor in his honor. I wish him well in his next career which I’m sure will be as exemplary as his past.”

Gov. Colyer has named Earl Lewis as interim director. Lewis is a licensed professional engineer and has served as the Kansas Water Office assistant director since 2007. He was an appointed member of the Governor’s Water Vision Team and also currently serves as president of the National Water Supply Alliance.