Water Conservation Programs

This page was updated 1/7/2022

Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program

CREP - Ark River at Syracuse - August 26 2015 - II

CREP Project Update - Rattlesnake Creek sub-basin area is added to accept enrollments!

In a continuing partnership agreement, the State of Kansas (KDA) and USDA have agreed to revise and update the formal Memorandum of Understanding which outlines the legal and financial commitments for administering and implementing the Upper Arkansas River Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP). Each party willingly commits financial resources to support, maintain, strengthen and improve water and land conservation efforts through CRP enrollments in the basin.

This MOA provides significant revisions to the current agreement by 1) expanding the authorized project area to include portions of the Rattlesnake Creek Sub-Basin; 2) increasing the total allowable enrollment to 40,000 acres; 3) authorizing the CP-43 ‘Prairie Strips’ practice which can incorporate dryland farming in between approved conservation covers on certain soil types; and 4) further defines and increases the State of Kansas funding commitment for ‘direct payments to participants’ as ‘the USDA per-acre annual rental payment times 15 times 13.5 percent’.

Kansas CREP: Proposed Expansion Area


Program Summary

CREP in Kansas is a federal/state partnership created for enhancing water conservation efforts along the Upper Arkansas River (UAR) corridor from Hamilton County to Rice County. The Upper Arkansas River CREP has been officially approved and operating since 2007.


The Upper Arkansas River CREP is a voluntary, incentive-based program allowing producers to enroll eligible irrigated acres in targeted areas for 14–15 year contracts with FSA, permanently retire the associated state water rights on the enrolled acres, and establish an approved land cover (typically a native grass) on the same acreage. The producer receives an annual rental payment, plus additional cost-share opportunities for specific conservation practices from FSA, plus an upfront incentive payment from DOC.

                CREP 2        CREP 5  

The specific project goals are to achieve, to the extent practicable when fully enrolled, the following objectives:

  • Enroll a maximum of 40,000 acres into CRP through this CREP in the project area (to be comprised of up to 37,000 irrigated cropland acres and up to 3,000 cropland acres of dryland center-pivot corners.

  • Reduce the consumption of ground water for irrigation in the project area by 65,000 acre-feet of permitted water appropriations based on the enrollment of 37,000 irrigated acres.

  • Reduce agricultural use of land that is unsuitable for dryland farming by enrolling 25,000 acres with a Wind Erodibility Index (WEI) of 134 or greater.

  • Reduce the amount of annual soil lost to erosion by approximately 150,000 tons per year.

  • Reduce the total annual use of electricity by 16 million kilowatt hours when full enrollment is met.

  • Demonstrate ability to gradually transition from irrigation farming to non-irrigation farming through enrollment of 1,000 acres of land that has a Wind Erodibility Index of less than 134, and will be devoted to CRP practice CP43.

                   CREP - Playa Lake Cover Photo

Eligible cropland conservation practices approved by FSA to meet the goals and objectives for this CREP project are as follows:

  • CP2, Establishment of Permanent Native Grasses
  • CP4D, Permanent Wildlife Habitat
  • CP9, Shallow Water Areas for Wildlife
  • CP21, Filter Strips
  • CP23, Wetland Restoration
  • CP23A, Wetland Restoration - Non-Floodplain
  • CP43, Prairie Strips

          CREP 6             CREP 7                                                   

As of Sept. 30, 2020, a total of 136 state CREP contracts on 23,146 acres have been approved by the State of Kansas. These contracts have resulted in the permanent retirement of 47,500 acre-feet of annual water appropriation on 166 water rights from 209 wells. The contracts represent a total of $1,644,513 in one-time state sign-up payments to producers over the past 13 years.

                                              CREP 1

Annual Progress: In contrast to the FY2018 total of 4,141 new acres entered into the program, FY2019 and FY2020 were unusually slow ones for enrollment with only 355 new acres being added. And although actual landowner offers were subdued, many inquiries from landowners about water right eligibilities and potential payment scenarios continued to be received. The project is still evolving and interest in expansion to address new water conservation areas is still high. A great deal of effort has been concentrated on incorporating the Rattlesnake Creek sub-basin into the CREP project. With the help of K-State, Kansas officials are working to appeal the current irrigated rental rates and re-establish attractive financial incentives for producers. With only 5,804 acres left to fill the available project allowance of 28,950 acres, the project is now 80% complete.

The Kansas Upper Arkansas River CREP project is the subject of an article featured on USDA’s Economic Research Service website entitled “Amber Waves”. It is a summary of a research project drawn from the following publication by A. B. Rosenberg entitled “Targeting of Water Rights Retirement Programs: Evidence from Kansas” which recently appeared in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics. The focus of the research is a cost/benefit analysis of our CREP project as a water conservation tool and provides a very favorable evaluation of the program results to date. It is quite easy to read for the highpoints and can be viewed at this address:


Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program Brochure

The following brochure is provided for the particular benefit of landowners who  might be interested in exploring the basic payment guidelines and policies of the project.  Additional information may be requested from the Division of Conservation.

Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program Performance Report

A project performance report is submitted annually to the USDA's Farm Service Agency and the Kansas Legislature as a condition of the program's authorization.  The program has been operating for nine years.  Past reports are available by contacting the Division of Conservation.

Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program Executive Summary

                                    CREP 2020 Annual Report Executive Summary (10/1/2109 to 9/30/2020)

Water Transition Assistance Program

Program Update – September 1, 2021

 A new WTAP target area has been recently been adopted in Greeley and Wichita counties.

Approved GMD No. 1 WTAP Target Area

Because of significant historical water level declines, the Western Kansas Groundwater Management District No. 1 (GMD#1) proposed that a WTAP target area be designated by KDA’s Division of Water Resources. This target area is determined to be in need of aquifer recovery and is now closed to further water appropriations with minor exceptions. In addition, GMD#1 requested the Chief Engineer delineate municipal water supply areas around the cities of Tribune and Leoti as “High Priority Areas” to be eligible for WTAP retirement grants.  

Chief Engineer's GMD #1 Designation Order

WTAP Project Announcement Summary

WTAP Enrollment Application Form

WTAP Water Right Reduction Form

WTAP Water Right Dismissal Form

For FY2022, a project enrollment will be conducted in the GMD#1 high priority areas from October 1 to November 15, 2021.

Two public meetings will be held in the new target area on September 21 to inform the public of the possible economic and hydrologic impacts of the program and to discuss the upcoming WTAP fall 2021 enrollment period.

WTAP Press Release - September 21, 2021 Public Meetings

This WTAP enrollment is part of the larger Groundwater Recharge and Sustainability Project (GRASP). GRASP is a coordinated effort between the Natural Resources Conservation Service and several state and local partners to provide enhanced financial incentives for implementing water conservation and playa restoration practices in Greeley and Wichita counties. 

Groundwater Recharge and Sustainability Project (GRASP) Press Release


Water Right Transition Assistance Program Benefits Landowners and Water Resources

WTAP is a voluntary, incentive-based program that permanently retires privately held irrigation water rights in exchange for payment by the State of Kansas. It is intended to help restore aquifers and recover stream flows in critically depleted target areas. The 2012 Kansas Legislature extended WTAP until June 30, 2022 based on past results of the initial pilot project.

The target areas currently designated include Rattlesnake Creek Sub-basin, Prairie Dog Creek Basin, and six “High Priority Areas” of Northwest Kansas Groundwater Management District No. 4.  And added just recently - four high priority areas in the Western Kansas Groundwater Management District No. 1.

WTAP bids cannot exceed $2,000 per acre-foot of the Historic Consumptive Water Use as calculated over the last ten years of actual annual water use of the water right(s) proposed for acceptance. Applications to accept partial water rights can also be considered. The award of WTAP grants for water right retirements is based on a competitive bidding process.

Applications which propose a financial contribution from a local entity may increase the priority of an application.


Water Right Transition Assistance Program Enrollment

For more information about WTAP enrollment opportunities, please contact Steve Frost at steve.frost@ks.gov or (785) 564-6622. 

WTAP Target Area Map

WTAP Target Area Map

Water Right Transition Assistance Program Performance Report