Board members representing Pratt, Stafford, Rice, Kiowa, Edwards and Pawnee counties met to finalize a draft proposal to end groundwater use dissension between political groups and local farm economic watchdogs.

Members of Big Bend Groundwater Management District 5 approved a new Quivira National Wildlife Refuge Local Enhanced Management Area (LEMA) for Rattlesnake Creek Basin at their February 21 Annual Meeting in St. John and held elections for three of the nine GMD5 directors, GMD5 District Manager Orrin Feril said Tuesday.
“We had a good meeting with attendance of about 100,” Feril said. “Our board met in the afternoon and finalized the draft proposal for the LEMA and the membership approved it that night at the annual meeting.”
Marlyn Spare of St. John was elected to serve a three-year term as one of nine directors of Ground Management District 5, replacing Kent Lamb who declined to run for another term as representative of Stafford County.
Incumbents Fred Grunder of St. John (with land ownership in Pratt County) and Justin Gatz of Turon, were re-elected to three-year terms representing Pratt and Reno Counties, respectively.
Other members of the GMD5 Board are Darrell Wood of Trousdale representing Edwards County, Kerry Froetschner of Larned representing Pawnee County, Phil Martin of Great Bend representing Barton County, Jerry Cullop of Sterling, representing Rice County, John Janssen of Kinsley, representing Kiowa County and Tom Taylor of Haviland, as an “at large” representative.
Feril said that GMD5’s second LEMA proposal was supported for submission to Kansas State Chief Engineer David Barfield, who rejected the first LEMA plan shortly before Christmas last year.
“We’ve gone through a very long process to get to this stage over the past two years and our confidence in it is high because we believe we have a plan that meets all the statutory requirements to provide a sustainable and complete remedy for the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge Impairment Complaint,” Feril said. “This plan is supported by expert hydrologists using the best scientific tools available.”
Feril said he is hopeful of a timely response so the GMD5 Board can proceed to the next step in the process, which calls for a minimum of two hearings.
“We believe this is a sustainable plan and encourage open dialog about the details and the science behind it,” Farrell said. “We encourage folks to stay involved and informed about the path forward.”
The new LEMA plan is posted on the GMD5 website,, which also includes a host of information about the programs and activities of GMD5.