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Kansas Legislature to Consider Legislation on State’s Water Issues

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TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) – Kansas lawmakers are under increasing pressure to respond to the state’s worsening water crisis. 

Last year, the Legislature failed to pass legislation to deal with the crisis. Opposition came from groups that lobby for farmers and ranchers. But with a prolonged drought in many parts of the state, there’s even more pressure to act this session. 

Drought conditions in western Kansas, coupled with new reports about how quickly the Ogalala aquifer is being drained, have created a new sense of urgency and a possible tipping point for policymakers. Representative Lindsay Vaughn of Overland Park is the top Democrat on the House Water Committee. She says lawmakers and agricultural groups need to come together to reach a meaningful compromise. 

“There are people from across parties, from across the state, who realize how crucial this is to every part of our lives and also to our biggest industries,” Vaughn said. 

House Water Committee members say the state must also find a way to enforce conservation targets to save the aquifer. In some parts of Kansas, that may require farmers and ranchers to cut their water use by as much as 30 percent.

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