H.B. 2881 would require that the charge made by groundwater management districts for each acre-foot of water withdrawn be assessed against the person to whom the use of the water is allocated. In addition, the bill would require the board of a groundwater management district to prorate and assess the charge to each owner in the proportion to the amount of authorized land owned by each person unless agreed to otherwise and notification is given to the board as to how the charge is to be assessed. The proration would be required if the authorized place of use of the water right for irrigation purposes pertains to land owned by more than one person.
This bill was introduced by Representative Holmes. At the hearing on the bill, Representative Holmes indicated that the bill was designed to address a tax equity problem with respect to the assessments for water use for water right holders in groundwater management districts. He indicated that some landowners may be required to pay all of the groundwater use assessment made by a groundwater management district if the well is located on one person's property but the water right is used by adjacent properties owned by others. He stated that the result of this is that one property owner may by paying the entire assessment while other users of the water right are failing to be charged.
Opponents to the bill included spokespersons from the following: Western Kansas Groundwater Management District No. 1, Equus Beds Groundwater Management District No. 2, and Big Bend Groundwater Management District No. 5. Written testimony in opposition to the bill was distributed from the Southwest Kansas Groundwater Management District. Among other things, the opponents indicated that the bill would increase administrative costs and require the districts to determine the various interests in a particular water right which would be burdensome.
The House Committee on Environment amended the bill by removing a provision which would have changed the date by when a person is required to submit a verified claim that the actual groundwater withdrawal is less than the amount allocated by the water right. Existing law requires the submission by April 1. The original bill would have changed this to June 1.
The fiscal note on the bill indicates that information from the Water Office, the Department of Agriculture, and the Kansas Association of Counties has been requested, but that none has been received.
1. *Supplemental notes are prepared by the Legislative Research Department and do not express legislative intent. The supplemental note and fiscal note for this bill may be accessed on the Internet at http://www.ink.org/public/legislative/fulltext-bill.html.