By AMY BICKEL
Special to The Hays Daily News
Despite augmented efforts to solve the declining Ogallala Aquifer, state water officials are still battling a long, annual list of irrigators who have overpumped their allotted water right.
State documents released from the Kansas Department of Agriculture's Division of Water Resources show 114 water right holders received civil penalties so far this year for overpumping in 2013, which is a first-offense warning.
Another 70 irrigators were warned a second, and, for a few, a third time for overpumping, and issued a $1,000 fine and temporary cutbacks to their annual water use.
A handful of others tried to hide their overpumping and were caught cheating - either falsifying their water-use report or tampering with their meter to make it look like they pumped less.
In all, the amount is little compared to the extensive legal draw downs by irrigators of western Kansas' declining Ogallala Aquifer - which is a hot-button issue this year after Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and his administration launched an effort earlier this year to come up with solutions - revealing a draft water vision proposal in July.
While the number of irrigators misusing a water right is down from the past few years, it all adds up, said