City of Hays
Today, the towns of Hays and Russell received a formal ruling from the Chief District Judge of the Edwards County District Court denying Water PACK’s motion for judicial review of the order of the State authorizing the conversion of R9 ranch water irrigation rights in Edwards County to municipal use rights.
The district judge’s decision upheld the 2019 approval by the Kansas Department of Agriculture’s chief engineer of the towns’ change applications.
The town of Hays purchased the approximately 7,000-acre R9 ranch and its 30 water rights in southwestern Edwards County in 1995, and a year later Russell purchased an 18% stake in the property, with the intention of one day using the water as part of the towns water supply.
Hays and Russell are both water conservation leaders in the state, and both have voluntarily agreed to use the water resource sustainably.
By converting R9 to municipal use, the aquifer is expected to benefit from 225,000 acre-feet of water, relative to normal agricultural practices.
The property is being returned to its natural state with native grasses and vegetation to restore the habitat and will one day provide hunting and other recreation opportunities for all Kansans.
Mayor Mason Ruder of Hays and Mayor Jim Cross of Russell issued the following joint statement.
“Today is a great day for Hays, Russell and the region. As a result of today’s decision, we are one step closer to realizing the vision that community leaders set out nearly 30 years ago. Our $2.8 billion regional economy depends on access to a reliable water source, and the R9 Ranch will provide this vital resource for future generations.
Unless Water PACK appeals the judge’s decision, cities will begin navigating the state’s water transfer law, which is required if more than 2,000 acre-feet of water are moved over more than 35 miles.
SEE RELATED STORIES: City: ‘Unaccetabe’ Hays still awaiting court decision on R9 water project
CITY: ‘Only active opponent’ in R9 water transfer delaying process
Application for judicial review filed in connection with the transfer of water rights of R9 Ranch
Chief Engineer Approves Hays/Russell R9 Ranch Water Change Request