More options for Kansas farmers in drought

The Kansas Department of Agriculture announced more options Thursday for farmers in drought-stricken counties.

The options are intended to prevent further crop failure while minimizing the impact that additional pumping has on the aquifer, according to Kansas Secretary of Agriculture Dale Rodman.

The first option is the use of Multi-Year Flex Account Permits. Participants in the Flex Account Program are provided a five-year allocation giving them the flexibility to exceed their annual authorized quantity of the water right. Participants can spread usage of their water allocation throughout the five years as long as the five-year total doesn't exceed the allocated amount.

The five-year allocation is based on five times the average annual quantity actually used from 2000 through 2009, as reported to the Department of Agriculture's Division of Water Resources by the water right holder.

While the Flex Account Program existed previously, amendments to the statute passed this legislative session provide additional flexibility to apply for these permits during the year rather than before the start of the calendar year.

This option is available statewide and is an ongoing program.

The second option, which is available only in U.S. Department of Agriculture drought declaration counties for this year, is applying for a 2011 Drought Emergency Term Permit.

The one-time, drought-focused term permit allows holders of existing water rights the flexibility to borrow a portion of next year's authorized quantity in order to complete the 2011 growing season.

Qualifying counties include Barber, Barton, Butler, Clark, Comanche, Cowley, Edwards, Ellis, Finney, Ford, Gove, Graham, Grant, Gray, Greeley, Hamilton, Harper, Harvey, Haskell, Hodgeman, Kearny, Kingman, Lane, Lincoln, Logan, Meade, Morton, Ness, Norton, Phillips, Reno, Rice, Russell, Sedgwick, Scott, Seward, Sheridan, Sherman, Stafford, Stanton, Stevens, Sumner, Thomas, Trego, Wallace and Wichita.

For more information, go to the Division of Water Resources' website at and click on 2011 Drought Options.