Governor Kelly Announces Kansas Receiving Nearly $25 Million to Support High Plains Aquifer

The High Plains Aquifer provides 30 percent of the water used in the nation’s irrigated agriculture. The aquifer runs under South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas. (Photo courtesy of K-State Research and Extension.)

Today, Governor Laura Kelly announced the Kansas Department of Agriculture is receiving nearly $25 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to support water conservation and groundwater management in the High Plains Aquifer.  

“Kansas farmers drive our state’s economic success, and water quality and quantity are a key part of that,” Governor Laura Kelly said. “This funding will accelerate our work to help more producers voluntarily implement practices that ensure Kansans have access to sustainable, reliable water sources for generations to come.” 

The funding comes through USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) as part of the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). The RCPP aims to reduce water use by collaborating with farmers and ranchers to implement a combination of NRCS practices including irrigation water management, cover crops, reduced tillage, and nutrient management. 

“To feed the world and to operate profitably, Kansas farmers need a secure water supply for this generation and the next,” said Representative Sharice Davids. “Our producers have been working hard to use water even more efficiently, and I’m pleased that this federal investment will help further that mission. Continued success of agriculture in Kansas is critical to our state’s economy and lowering food costs — issues that are top of mind as I work with my colleagues to pass a bipartisan Farm Bill.” 

The High Plains Aquifer is the largest groundwater source in Kansas and plays an important economic role as farmers rely on it for irrigation. Lying underneath western and south-central Kansas, it consists of several hydraulically connected aquifers. 

“I’m thrilled that USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service has awarded this grant to Kansas,” said Kansas Department of Agriculture Secretary Mike Beam. “This five-year project, built on a collaborative effort by KDA’s Division of Conservation, the Kansas Water Office, local groundwater management districts, non-governmental conservation groups, private landowners and irrigators, and others, will help implement increased conservation and water efficient practices across the High Plains Aquifer of Kansas. I’m confident this voluntary incentive-based initiative will be a successful project.” 

The RCPP aims to reduce water use by 10 percent in each of Kansas’ five Groundwater Management Districts. NRCS also announced that Ducks Unlimited will be receiving $10 million as part of the Kansas Nebraska Wetland Initiative to create, restore, and protect wetland and riparian barriers in Nebraska and Kansas. More information about both grants is available here.