With historic drought conditions across the state, U.S. Senator Pat Roberts and Kansas Governor Sam Brownback today said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has pledged it will cease releasing waters from three Kansas River reservoirs: Tuttle Creek, Milford and Perry Lake, on August 7th; allowing critical water to remain in the state.
"I am pleased the Corps recognizes our critical need to preserve this water here at home where our farmers, ranchers and municipalities must use this critical resource to battle the drought," Roberts said.
"Managing our country's water ways requires a delicate balance. The Army Corps of Engineers has the discretion to recognize what is normally done may not be what is best for those who depend upon the reservoir system. We appreciate the Army Corps' willingness to discuss these issues and move towards agreeable solutions," Brownback said. "We look forward to continuing to work with Senator Roberts and the Corps, especially as it relates to the ongoing need for increased flexibility from the corps in such situations."
Last week, the Army Corps of Engineers announced it would release water from the Kansas River reservoirs until at least August 8th and retain the option to reopen the flow from the reservoirs in October. The Army Corps said the decision was to assist with river navigation and also to comply with the Endangered Species Act to preserve wildlife and their habitat north of Kansas.
Following a letter from Gov. Brownback and a series of calls to Jody Farhat, Chief of the Missouri River Water Management Division of the Army Corps of Engineers, from Senator Roberts at the Governor's request as well as from the Governor and Kansas Water Office staff, the Army Corps agreed to discontinue tapping Kansas reservoirs August 7, 2012 through the end of the release season, pledging not to release water in October. Wildlife and navigation needs will continue to be addressed.
Senator Roberts and Governor Brownback brought together state, local and federal government officials, along with representatives from the agriculture industry, last Wednesday to talk about the effects of the drought across Kansas and how best to coordinate assistance for local farmers and ranchers. During this conference, Governor Brownback asked Senator Roberts to request the Army Corps of Engineers cease using valuable Kansas water to meet navigation needs downstream on the Missouri River.
Senator Roberts and Governor Brownback will continue to work together to ensure state and federal efforts are coordinated to make certain the needs of Kansans are the top priority when managing state resources.