Quivira National Wildlife Refuge Impairment Complaint

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) owns and operates the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge (Quivira), a wetland of international significance and part of the central U.S. flyway. Water is a critical component of its operations.

The Service’s water right for Quivira has a priority that dates back to 1957 and is located at the lower end of the Rattlesnake Creek basin, within GMD No. 5. The Service’s water right at Quivira allows it to divert up to 14,632 acre-feet per year at a maximum rate of 300 cubic feet per second (cfs).

After decades of voluntary efforts to resolve its concerns were unsatisfactory, the Service filed an impairment complaint with KDA-DWR in April of 2013. KDA-DWR then began its investigation of the alleged impairment.

KDA-DWR published an initial impairment investigation report on December 2, 2015. The initial report analyzed historical records and evaluated the effects that junior groundwater pumping have had on Quivira’s water supply using the GMD No. 5 groundwater model. The analysis indicates that junior groundwater pumping has impaired the Service from exercising its senior water right for Quivira. The initial report and related documents are available through the links below.  As supplemental information is available, it will be posted here.

No water administration occurred in 2016 and no water administration will occur in 2017 while basin stakeholders, led by GMD No. 5, continue work with the Service and KDA-DWR to develop a solution to the impairment.

The impairment investigation progress and tentative plan is outlined at the bottom of this page.

Support Files Table



 Document File

File Size  

Date Posted

Provided by

Fish and Wildlife Service response to GMD No. 5 second proposal (3/22/2017) Service response to second proposal  660 KB 4/19/2017 Service
GMD No. 5 Second Proposal (2/15/17) GMD No. 5 second proposal 5.4 MB 2/17/2017 GMD No. 5
Service conditions on potentially acceptable solutions (12/13/2016) Conditions for solution  156 KB 12/19/2016 Service
DWR letter to GMD No. 5 regarding Service response to GMD proposal DWR to
GMD No. 5  
 154 KB   12/8/2016  DWR
Fish and Wildlife Service response to GMD No. 5 proposal (12/1/2016) Service response to proposal  130 KB  12/2/2016  Service
GMD No. 5 proposal (9/8/2016) GMD No. 5 proposal  2.0 MB  12/2/2016 GMD No. 5
Final impairment investigation report Final Impairment Report  18.9 MB  07/15/2016  DWR
Comments from the second draft of the initial impairment investigation report Second draft comments  53 KB  07/07/2016  Service
Supplemental responses to comments received following the first draft of the initial impairment investigation report. Response to comments on Initial Report  458 KB  06/10/2016   DWR
Second draft of the initial impairment investigation report Second Draft Initial Report
Second Draft Initial Report with markup showing changes
11.87 MB (w/o markup)
12.91 MB(w/markup)
 05/29/2016   DWR
Comments from the first draft of the initial impairment investigation report First draft comments    8.3 MB  05/17/2016  Multiple
DWR reply to extending comment period on initial impairment investigation report Comment period extension letter  178 KB  04/08/2016   DWR
Supplementary Information on Quivira Water Management Quivira Water Management     3 MB  03/08/2016    Service
Service's Responses to Impairment Solution Questions Raised at 01/27/2016 Meeting Service's Impairment Solution Responses     579 KB  03/07/2016     Service
DWR Quivira File DWR Quivira Water Right 7571 File    99 MB  01/15/2016   DWR
Initial Impairment PowerPoint Quivira Wildlife Refuge Initial Impairment PowerPoint Presentation 2 MB  12/14/2015   DWR

Initial Impairment Report

Quivira Wildlife Refuge Initial Impairment Investigation Report 
(Corrected Figure 4 and Attachment 3)

 17 MB 



Modeling Presentation

Quivira Impairment Investigation Modeling Presentation

 3 MB

12/02/2015    DWR

PD Map

Points of Diversion in the Rattlesnake Creek Basin

632 KB



Statutory Provision and Impairment Procedures

K.S.A. 82a-706b of the Kansas Water Appropriation Act states: “It shall be unlawful for any person to prevent, by diversion or otherwise, any waters of this state from moving to a person having a prior right to use the same…”  The Act charges the chief engineer with the duty to regulate use to prevent such “impairment” of senior water rights by junior water rights.

Regulations adopted pursuant to the Act provide for a 5-step process for impairment investigations and actions: 1) a complaint must be submitted in writing, 2) DWR Investigation, 3) DWR Report of Findings, 4) where impairment is found and action desired, the complainant must file a request to secure water, and 5) action by the chief engineer as long as required to aid the senior file in securing a larger portion of its water right.

Impairment investigations and actions in surface water systems are fairly straightforward. Impairment investigations involving groundwater are more complex and time-consuming. In 2012, regulations were amended to provide for more specificity in procedures for groundwater impairment investigations including increased opportunities for groundwater management districts to comment and help with impairment investigations, requirements for complainants to provide information showing that their pump system and well are adequate, and increased transparency by DWR by making data available and providing the effected water users with opportunity to comment.

Impairment Investigation Progress and Plan

Since receiving the Service’s letter, KDA-DWR has done the following:
  • Met with the GMD No. 5 Board and reported to GMD No. 5’s 2013 annual meeting on the request of the Service and how the investigation would proceed.
  • Met with the Service to confirm their intent for KDA-DWR to conduct an impairment investigation and to outline requirements for information KDA-DWR would need from the Service to begin its investigation.
  • Received additional information requested of the Service to define their specific needs.   
  • Used the GMD No. 5 groundwater model to determine the magnitude and timing of the effect of junior groundwater pumping on the Rattlesnake Creek at Quivira.
  • November 4, 2014, KDA-DWR presented groundwater modeling results for nine alternative historical scenarios at a public meeting in St. John.  A summary PowerPoint is available in the table above.
  • December 2, 2015, KDA-DWR published its initial impairment investigation report for review and comment.
  • December 10, 2015, KDA-DWR  held a public meeting in St. John to present a summary of the initial report’s findings, answer questions and seek input.
  • January 15, 2016, KDA-DWR published entire DWR Quivira file in the table above.
  • May 13, 2016, end of review period for Initial Report.
  • May 30, 2016, KDA-DWR to publish second draft of Initial Report in the table above.
  • July 1, 2016, end of review period for second draft of Initial Report.
  • July 15, 2016, KDA-DWR to publish Final Report in the table above.
  • August 15, 2016, basin plan to implement remedy is submitted to chief engineer.