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Water hearing scheduled for late November in Hoxie





HOXIE -- The second public hearing on a proposal to limit water withdrawals in an area in Sheridan and Thomas counties has been scheduled for Nov. 28 in Hoxie.

Earlier this month, a hearing officer appointed by the Division of Water Resources issued an order finding the requirements had been met to move ahead with what's known as a local enhanced management plan.

That plan -- the first of its kind in Kansas -- urges DWR Chief Engineer David Barfield to adopt a plan to limit irrigation in a 99-square-mile area.

The idea for a LEMA first surfaced last year after a proposal by irrigators fell apart when they couldn't get assurances the idea would be dropped if it proved not to work or simply was too onerous.

The plan will cover an area known as Sheridan 6, considered a high-priority water use area because of declining water levels in the Ogallala.

The LEMA plan offered by the Northwest Kansas Groundwater Management District No. 4, which includes the Sheridan 6 area, calls for a five-year program that would limit irrigation to 11 acre-inches of water per year. Water use for livestock would be limited to 12 gallons of water per animal each day.

Those reductions amount to approximately 20 percent from current use.

The first hearing in September was designed simply to determine if the proposal met a series of thresholds to move ahead.

The Nov. 28 meeting will go into greater detail as to what's being proposed.

The hearing will start at 10:30 a.m. in the Sheridan County Courthouse.

Oral comments will be taken during the hearing. Written comments can be submitted through Dec. 4.

The hearing is open to the public.