The Hillsdale Area Water Cooperative (HAWC) and Kansas Water Office (KWO) hosted a ceremonial signing for a significant water marketing contract June 12. This contract will secure several counties’ and public water suppliers’ future water supply for decades to come. The signing was held at Johnson County Rural Water District No. 7.
The four-year effort involves nine entities, including the cities of Edgerton, Gardner; Spring Hill and Wellsville, Franklin County Rural Water District No.1, Johnson County Rural Water District No. 7, Miami County Rural Water District No. 1; Miami County Rural Water District No. 2; and Miami County Rural Water District No. 4.
“The effort taken by these locals to work together is significant,” said Gov. Sam Brownback. “Acknowledging the need to dedicate water resources to this high-growth area and allowing local entities to make decisions for adjustments in water quantity is a model others should follow.”
The contract was signed under the state’s water marketing program operated by the Kansas Water Office.  The program, the only one of its kind in the nation, has been in place since 1974 when the state water plan storage act was passed.  The program utilizes state owned storage in federal reservoirs to meet the water supply needs of industries, cities and rural water districts.
“In 2008, we were faced with a situation of nine separate entities expressing a desire to purchase Hillsdale Lake water. At that time, these entities collectively requested more water than the lake could provide during a protracted drought,” said Tracy Streeter, Kansas Water Office director. “I am very pleased to sign this agreement today to empower this coalition of water suppliers to meet the current and future needs of the region. This agreement exemplifies what a state and local partnership can accomplish.”
Starting in the fall of 2008, KWO representatives began meeting with area water users in Johnson, Franklin and Miami County to discuss the use of Hillsdale reservoir through a wholesale type concept. The only way to meet the water demand needs was to have the multiple applicants agree to work together.
After many meetings and negotiations between the entities and KWO, the Kansas Water Authority approved the contract on May 17. With the contract, existing agreements and applications will be terminated and roll all quantities under one contract. A multiple year endeavor to be commended!
HAWC President Allan Soetaert spoke on behalf of the nine member cooperative and expressed their excitement of the approved contract with the Kansas Water Office.
“This contract signifies more than four years of hard work and dedication of these nine entities. Sharing the water supply at Hillsdale Reservoir indicates the willingness of the nine political bodies to act as one voice, bipartisan with a common goal, that will enrich our communities for many years,” he said. “We are very proud of our accomplishment here and offer it as proof that working as a team can, and has, provided greater results beyond any independent goal one entity could have.”