Kansas Chief Engineer bounces Big Bend District plan for Rattlesnake Creek/Quivira LEMA.

The Big Bend Groundwater District #5 Rattlesnake Creek/Quivira National Wildlife Refuge Local Enhanced Management Area (LEMA) plan submitted less than two weeks ago to Kansas Chief Engineer David Barfield was bounced back last Thursday.

“I cannot complete a review of the proposed management plan because it contains no measurable goals and it is unclear if the proposed corrective controls would meet such undetermined goals,” Barfield stated in his two-page letter, throwing the ball back to GMD5 board members.

“Please also make clear if is it the intent of the Board of Directors that this management plan fully or partially solves the impairment of Quivira National Wildlife Refuge,” Barfield’s letter said.

“Additional information is also needed to determine how voluntarily conservation was taken into consideration as well as a clear definition of the proposed boundaries of the LEMA. I encourage you to revise your plan based on the comments contained in this letter so that your proposed management plan can be properly considered and that your full intent is clear and duly considered,” Barfield’s letter concludes.

GMD5 Manager Orrin Faril said Monday that a reply to Barfield’s letter is in the works.

“The District intends to fully review the Chief Engineer’s concerns outlined in the December 20 correspondence and will continue to push forward with a LEMA plan that satisfies the statutory requirements,” Faril said Monday.

“The District Board is committed to providing a LEMA plan that is a sustainable remedy to the impairment complaint at Quivira NWR,” Faril said. “We encourage all area stakeholders to stay informed in the process and to get engaged in the conversation. All lines of communication are open for these discussions moving forward.”

To achieve it goal to raise public awareness about the Rattlesnake Creek water rights issue, GMD5 has established a presence on both Facebook and Twitter @BigBendGMD5.

Complete documentation relating to the issue is also available on the GMD5 website https://gmd5.org/proposed-rsc-lema. The site includes both back- ground documents and feedback and comments, which include more than 60 letters from private citizens and government and other agencies.

One of the documents is a November 2 letter from Skyline School District 438

Superintendent Becca Flowers, who closed with these remarks: “As you look for solutions to get more water flowing into Quivera National Wildlife Refuge to meet the needs of the wildlife, I implore you to also seriously consider the impact on the people of the communities impacted by the solutions being evaluated...”.

Stafford County Resident Leah Chadd is one of the moving forces behind the grassroots Rattlesnake Basin Cause formed last January to get involved with the process of finding a solution and to raise public awareness of the impact the outcome could have on the entire community.

“The people of Kansas need to be aware of how critical this issue of water usage in the Rattlesnake Creek Basin is. The GMD5 board and local farmers have worked many hours trying to find a solution to the Impairment Complaint set forth by the Chief Engineer of Division of Water Resources,” Chadd said.

“The State allowed the appropriation of the irrigation wells over the years which was a great economic boost for the state of Kansas,” Chadd said. “Now, there seems to be a political agenda to take it back”

“The farmers and agricultural businesses are the lifeblood of these communities and of the state,” Chadd said. “The farmers feed the population and the wildlife, including the migratory birds.”

“The state has refused every attempt to find a solution through the LEMA process which would be the best way to address this issue. If they administer a plan with the suggested cuts in water usage, this community will be a ghost town. This is much more than an issue for area farmers, but an issue for every business, school, bank, and the list goes on,” Chadd said.

Rattlesnake Basin Cause was formed by a group of more than 25 local farmers, feedlots and businesses who pooled their own funds to secure the legal counsel of an attorney specializing in water concerns, Chadd said.

For more information about Rattlesnake Basin Cause, call her at 620-546-4484.