Farmers face water right issues in central Kansas

Local

ST. JOHN, Kan. (KSNW) – Three local counties are facing water right issues in central Kansas, and it has young farmers worried about their future.

“It’s not right,” said farmer Darrell Wood.

Fourth-generation farmer Darrell Wood is worried about the future for his sons.

“I will survive, but these two boys won’t because they both bought land assuming things would be okay, and uh, they’ve got land payments,” he said.

Pratt, Stafford and Kiowa counties discussed water rights on Monday from the Rattlesnake River Basin, and farmers said it could impact the economy if they lower their usage.

“We are obviously in tough economic times right now in agriculture and our net returns aren’t great, and if we get cut on that, we have a debt to pay, and it could be really tough on not just us but a lot of young farmers,” said Clayton Wood, Darrell’s son and farmer.

“I have some friends that said they will not make it once it’s all said and done,” said David Wood, Darrell’s other son and farmer.

Officials said the problem is junior groundwater pumps will dry up the stream eventually and degrade the water quality in the basin.

For farmers, Darrell said it will be hard to lower water usage and still get high-quality crops, which makes him nervous about what will happen in the coming future.

“It’s going to hurt the whole area,” he said.

Around 300 community members attended the first meeting. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services plan to work with the Basin to find a solution, but if one isn’t found, they said they will take the actions that are needed.

More information about the slides and information discussed at the meeting can be found by clicking here.

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