Drought just keeps growing across the state.
Last week, Gov. Sam Brownback updated the Drought Declaration for Kansas to reflect worsening conditions in 13 counties that warrant moving them from warning status to emergency status. The update also adds six counties to the watch list.
Farmers across the state held off on wheat seeding, hoping for rain, but as September drew to a close with less than an inch of rain for the month, many have resorted to "dusting in" and hoping later fall rains will allow it to germinate.
Three-quarters of Kansas counties are well below normal in available soil moisture because of below normal precipitation patterns and drying conditions. Stream flows and lake levels also are being affected, the declaration noted.
Tracy Streeter, Director of the Kansas Water Office and Chair of the Governor's Drought Response Team recommended the drought declaration update.
"Water supply conditions continue to decline in many areas, Emergency stage triggers the Kansas Water Office (KWO) Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) which allows emergency use of water from certain state fishing lakes by contracting the Kansas Water Office," Streeter said. "This will allow small communities and individuals within the emergency counties category to pump water from named state fishing lakes if they are in dire need of water".
Individuals and communities interested in using the lakes should contact the Kansas Department of Wildlife Parks and Tourism for permit information. The MOU limits the types of water use and a fee may be set for use of the state fishing lakes' water supply.
"We are glad to be able to offer this as an option to Kansans in desperate need for water," KDWPT Secretary Robin Jennison said. "The priority order established for this MOU is domestic, municipal and then livestock uses, while also protecting the lake's fish population."
The following state fishing lakes are available for withdrawals in those counties that have been included in the Drought Emergency Declaration: Barber, Clark, Kingman, and McPherson State Lakes.
For more detailed information about current conditions, see the Kansas Climate Summary and Drought Report on the Kansas Water Office website at: www.kwo.org
Counties now included in drought emergency are: Barber, Barton, Clark, Comanche, Edwards, Finney, Ford, Grant, Gray, Harper,
Harvey, Haskell, Hodgeman, Kearny, Kingman, Kiowa, Lane, McPherson, Meade, Morton, Pawnee, Pratt, Reno, Rice, Sedgwick, Seward, Stafford, Stanton, Stevens, Sumner
Counties in drought warning are: Allen, Anderson, Bourbon, Butler, Chase, Chautauqua, Cherokee, Coffey, Cowley, Crawford, Elk, Gove, Greeley, Greenwood, Hamilton, Labette, Linn, Logan, Lyon, Marion, Montgomery, Neosho, Ness, Scott, Trego, Wallace, Wichita, Wilson, Woodson
Counties continued in drought watch are: Cheyenne, Decatur, Dickinson, Ellis, Ellsworth, Franklin, Graham, Lincoln, Miami, Norton, Osage, Ottawa, Phillips, Rawlins, Rooks, Rush, Russell, Saline, Sheridan, Sherman, Thomas. Those added to the drought watch include Geary, Mithcell, Morris, Osborne, Riley and Wabaunsee.