With 82 counties in Kansas declared drought disaster areas and the entire state in moderate to extreme drought, there is no topic more on the minds of farmers attending this year's 3i Show in Dodge City than water.
On Friday morning, Kansas Water Office director Tracy Streeter provided an update on the ongoing drought and state response to it.
The picture is grim, he said. The eastern part of the state has already hit serious minimum stream flow levels that have required the suspension of junior water rights on eight rivers.
"Those farmers are just shut down on irrigation," he said. "We're also in the situation of having to release water from federal reservoirs to maintain minimum stream flow. It's looking very serious."
The brutal drought of 2011 took a toll on the Ogalalla Aquifer in the western part of the state. The aquifer dropped 10 feet in most parts of the aquifer, Streeter said. Measurements are made at 1,300 wells in January of every year to monitor the decline in the aquifer.
Declines this year are expected to be equal to last year as extreme drought continues across much of western Kansas and producers to salvage what they can of crops.