Farmers in central Kansas will not lose water in 2020

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WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) -

"Augmentation's the only way to solve this problem," says Farmer, Darrell Wood.

Wood is talking about the water problem in central Kansas. For years, he says a fight over water rights between farmers and the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge has wreaked havoc.

"The demands for that water are significant and there's always more demand than there is water," says U.S. Senator Jerry Moran.

The refuge has senior water rights over hundreds of farmers in five different counties. According to the Kansas Department of Agriculture, the farmers' wells are intercepting with water  meant for Quivira. 

KDA's initial plan was to put restrictions on farmers' water usage.

"Instead of raising irrigated corn with 250 bushel potential, we're back to 130 bushel potential," says Wood.

"That would mean a lot less farming, a lot less economic activity and certainly damage to the economy," says Moran.

Because of the potentially huge economic impact, U.S. Senator Jerry Moran negotiated with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service. Friday, a notice was released promising farmers no water would be demanded for the 2020 growing season.

"With Jerry Moran doing what he did, might be a good time to come back together and I would hope we could wind this thing down and negotiate," says Wood.

"In the mean time, they will work with irrigators, farmers and ranchers in central Kansas to come up with a solution."

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