State records show that fewer irrigators are pumping more water than they are allowed to use annually.
The Hutchinson News reports that 114 water right holders received a first-offense warning of civil penalties so far this year for over-pumping in 2013. Another 70 irrigators were warned a second, and, for a few, a third time for over-pumping, and issued a $1,000 fine and temporary cutbacks to their annual water use. A fourth offense results in a water right revocation.
A handful of others tried to hide their over-pumping and were caught cheating by either falsifying their water-use report or tampering with their meter to make it look like they pumped less. Last year, state officials made the fines more strict in an effort to curb the problem.
Lane Letourneau of the Kansas Department of Agriculture says that while the number of irrigators misusing a water right is down from the past few years, it all adds up.