Walnut Creek IGUCA


The Kansas Department of Agriculture’s Division of Water Resources has begun the formal review of the Walnut Creek Intensive Groundwater Use Control Area (IGUCA). 

The review process has three main phases. First, KDA–DWR will gather data, analyze the performance of the IGUCA, and draft a report; KDA–DWR expects to publish a draft report for public review and comment by December 31, 2021. Then a final report with recommendations will be published in February 2022. Finally, KDA–DWR will hold a public hearing in the spring of 2022. 

Due to the timing of the review and hearing process, KDA–DWR does not expect that this review will affect the calculation and assignment of 2022-2026 water allocations for water right holders within the Walnut Creek IGUCA.

IGUCA Overview

Walnut Creek IGUCATo see a full size map of the Walnut Creek IGUCA, click the map image to the right.

In response to declining groundwater levels and lack of sufficient streamflow within the Walnut Creek basin to satisfy senior surface water rights, the Chief Engineer initiated the IGUCA process in March 1990. Hearings were held in Great Bend between December 1990 and March 1991, as well in Topeka in April 1991, and the IGUCA Order was issued in January 1992. A request for partial stay was filed in February 1992, a Supplemental Order was issued in December 1996, an Amended Order was issued in June 1998, and two more Supplemental Orders were issued in June 2001 and July 2017. 

Pursuant to K.A.R. 5-20-2, each of the eight IGUCA Orders in place before July 1, 2008 must be reviewed in a process that includes a public hearing conducted by the Chief Engineer. While a brief summary of the Walnut Creek IGUCA has been provided below, the actual IGUCA Order is also available and should be referred to for detailed conclusions and provisions.


March 13, 1990: IGUCA proceedings initiated by the Chief Engineer

  • KDA-DWR completed a report titled, "Availability of Water in Walnut Creek, Its Tributaries, Their Valley Alluviums, and Hydraulically Connected Aquifers" in September 1989
  • The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks requested that the Chief Engineer initiate IGUCA proceedings in areas that affect the water right for Cheyenne Bottoms
  • Groundwater levels appeared to be declining or to have declined excessively, the rate of withdrawal of groundwater equaled or exceeded the rate of recharge, and conditions existed which required regulation in the public interest
  • Big Bend GMD No. 5 requested that the Chief Engineer initiate IGUCA proceedings in the Walnut Creek basin in Barton County

December 1990 - April 1991: Public hearings

  • A formal public hearing was held on December 4, 1990 in Great Bend
  • Subsequent hearings were held on December 5-7, 1990; January 3-4, 1991; February 5-8; and March 19-22 and 26-28 in Great Bend; and on April 18, 1991 in Topeka

January 29, 1992: IGUCA Order issued

  • Closed the area to further appropriations
  • Required the installation of flowmeters
  • Required water users to submit annual water use reports
  • Set five-year water right allocations
  • Determined long-term sustainable yield to be 22,700 acre-feet per year
  • Defined reasonable allocation quantities for irrigation water rights based on priority and the maximum acres irrigated between 1985 and 1990
  • Defined reasonable allocation quantities for non-vested municipal water rights as the reasonable per capita water use for the 1989 population or the full authorized quantity, whichever is less
  • Defined reasonable allocation quantities for non-vested water rights for all other beneficial uses of water as 90% of the maximum use reported between 1985 and 1990 or the sum of the annual quantity of vested and senior water rights and 44% of junior water rights authorized for the entity, whichever is less
  • Allowed groundwater users to divert their allocation for any authorized place of use from a combination any of the wells authorized to divert
  • Allowed the Chief Engineer to, approximately every five years, evaluate any information collected from additional studies and the status of water rights and permits in the IGUCA and make adjustments to the corrective controls
  • Required that if a water user exceeds their five-year allocation, the amount allocated for the next five years is reduced by twice the amount over-pumped
  • Instructed KDA-DWR to inform water users of their five-year allocations
  • Required all holders of surface and groundwater vested water rights and surface water rights for recreational use to submit conservation plans
  • Allowed the Chief Engineer to adopt any special policies and procedures, or make any changes to the Order, deemed to be in the public interest
  • Incorporated the corrective controls as conditions of each water right authorized in the IGUCA
  • Established an Advisory Committee to make recommendations to the Chief Engineer. Each formal participant in the IGUCA proceeding was, at the conclusion of the public hearing, invited to appoint a representative to the Advisory Committee. The Committee met 16 times between 1992 and 2001 and made several recommendations to the Chief Engineer, which have been adopted. Although it has not met recently, the Advisory Committee is still in existence.

February 19, 1992: Partial stay and request for temporary remedies filed by the Walnut Creek Basin Association and Mid Kansas Quality Water Association

  • The Order issued on January 29, 1992 stayed in full force and effect as written
  • The request for partial stay and temporary remedies was denied in part and granted in part

December 6, 1996: Supplemental Order issued

  • April 9, 1996: The Walnut Creek IGUCA Advisory Committee recommended that the Chief Engineer increase allocations for the water right of the City of Otis' helium plant
  • Allowed carry-over of any allocation unused during the five-year period of 1992-1996 to the next five-year period of 1997-2001

June 24, 1998: Amended Order issued

  • Provided a method for calculating an allocation for water rights found to be in good standing but enrolled in CRP, with no reported irrigated acres during the six-year period prior to enrollment. This had not been taken into account by the Supplemental Order.

June 29. 2001: Supplemental Amended Order (III) issued

  • Allowed each water right owner to carry over unused allocations from any given five-year allocation period to the subsequent five-year allocation period, so long as water use does not exceed the maximum authorized quantity
  • Allowed applications to be filed for additional rate, with applicable conditions

July 31, 2017: Supplemental Order issued

  • Allowed term permits for non-fresh waters not connected to Walnut Creek or its alluviums and related deposits to be accepted

Supporting Documents

Individuals who have questions regarding the Walnut Creek IGUCA should contact Lizzie Hickman at Elizabeth.Hickman@ks.gov for more information.