The director of the Kansas Water Office will step down in December after more than 14 years.
Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer announced Oct. 12 that Tracy Streeter would be retiring from his position as KWO director on Dec. 14. Streeter served as director since 2004, overseeing many large projects aimed at conserving the state’s water. Before that, he served as the director for the State Conservation Commission for 19 years.
“I am grateful for the vision and leadership of Tracy Streeter,” Colyer said in a release. “His experience at the State Conservation Commission and then serving as a leader for our state’s water issues for more than a decade have left a positive impact on our state. I appreciate the time he devoted to solving our water issues, both surface and ground. Kansas is a leader in the nation on many water issues because of Tracy’s work. I appreciate his years of dedicated service to the people of Kansas.”
Much of Streeter’s recent work came out of the 50-Year Water Vision called for by former Gov. Sam Brownback in 2013. Streeter led the 50-year vision and oversaw the implementation of the Kansas Water Plan,.
Under the 50 year vision, Streeter led projects like the dredging of John Redmond Reservoir, which removed 3 million cubic yards of sediment from the reservoir, as well as stabilized banks and more.
“The dredging of John Redmond Reservoir was a big project,” he said. “That kind of dredging project was the first of its kind and it was done right here in Kansas.”
He also oversaw the creation and implementation of water technology farms in Western Kansas, which are aimed at improving research and management of water in the Ogallala Aquifer region. KWO announced earlier this month that they would be accepting notices of interest from landowners looking take part in and expand the program.
Colyer has appointed KWO’s former assistant director, Earl Lewis, to serve as interim director effective Dec. 15. Lewis will serve until the next governor of Kansas takes office and selects a new director.
Streeter saw the changing of the guard as a good time to move to the next stage in his life.
“I have been eligible to retire for a couple of years, and I always planned to try a different career path when I was eligible,” Streeter said. “With the upcoming change in administration, it seemed like a good time. Not for any political reasons, it was just a good breaking point to go into a new direction.”
Streeter has no solid plans yet, but he knows he’ll continue working, possibly even starting his own consulting business.
With the dredging project and water tech farms sticking out in his mind as accomplishments he’s proud of, he said the creation of the 50-year Water Vision makes him the most proud.
“I have kind of dialed in to projects that are significant, but I think what might trump those is the fact that going into the creation of the water vision, we had so many meetings and met so many of the stakeholders,” Streeter said. “I think really getting the public’s input really gives the plan credibility, because it was really built from the ground up, and I’m proud we took the time to do it that way.”