Water Conservation Programs

This page was updated 1/22/2021

Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program

                                       crep photo

The Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) in Kansas is a federal/state partnership created for enhancing water conservation efforts along the Upper Arkansas River (UAR) corridor from Hamilton County to Rice County. The Upper Arkansas River CREP has been officially approved and operating for twelve years.


          CREP map

The Upper Arkansas River CREP is a voluntary, incentive-based program allowing producers to enroll eligible irrigated acres in targeted areas for 14–15 year contracts with FSA, permanently retire the associated state water rights on the enrolled acres, and establish an approved land cover (typically a native grass) on the same acreage. The producer receives an annual rental payment, plus additional cost-share opportunities for specific conservation practices from FSA, plus an upfront incentive payment from DOC.

                                                 CREP 2

Eligible cropland conservation practices approved by FSA to meet the goals and objectives for this CREP project are as follows:

CP2 (Establishment of Permanent Native Grasses and Legumes) – up to 27,550 acres

CP4D (Permanent Wildlife Habitat, Non-easement) – up to 400 acres

CP9 (Shallow Water Areas for Wildlife) – up to 200 acres

CP21 (Filter Strips) – up to 100 acres

CP22 (Riparian Buffer) – up to 100 acres 

CP23/CP23A (Wetland Restoration, flood-plain & nonflood-plain) – 200 acres

Groundwater is the dominant source of water for all uses in the basin, and aquifer declines are a serious concern. Therefore, water conservation is the main management objective in the Upper Arkansas CREP. The program also provides other resource benefits including soil conservation, water quality protection, wildlife habitat enhancement, and energy savings. The majority of irrigated acres enrolled have been on highly erodible, sandhills soils that are unsuitable for dryland farming.

                                           CREP - Ark River at Syracuse - August 26, 2015

As of September 30, 2019, a total of 136 state CREP contracts on 23,180 acres have been approved by the state of Kansas (with the addition of 380 acres this year).  These contracts have resulted in the permanent retirement of 47,500 acre-feet of annual water appropriation on 166 water rights from 209 wells. The contracts also represent a total of $1,644,513 in one-time, state sign-up payments to producers over the past twelve years.

Annual Progress: 
In contrast to the previous year's total of 4,141 new acres entered into the program, FY2019 was an unusually slow one for enrollment.  And although actual landowner offers were subdued, many inquiries from landowners about water right eligibilities and potential payment scenarios continued to be received.  Project partners were also very active in upgrading the CREP website functions and security.  The project is still evolving and interest in expansion to address new water conservation areas is still high.  With only 5,770 acres left to fill the available project allowance of 28,950 acres, the project is now 80% complete.

                                                CREP - Playa Lake

The Kansas Upper Arkansas River CREP project is the subject of an article featured on USDA’s Economic Research Service website entitled “Amber Waves”. It is a summary of a research project drawn from the following publication by A. B. Rosenberg entitled “Targeting of Water Rights Retirement Programs: Evidence from Kansas” which recently appeared in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics. The focus of the research is a cost/benefit analysis of our CREP project as a water conservation tool and provides a very favorable evaluation of the program results to date. It is quite easy to read for the highpoints and can be viewed at this address:


Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program Brochure

The following brochure is provided for the particular benefit of landowners who  might be interested in exploring the basic payment guidelines and policies of the project.  Additional information may be requested from the Division of Conservation.

Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program Performance Report

A project performance report is submitted annually to the USDA's Farm Service Agency and the Kansas Legislature as a condition of the program's authorization.  The program has been operating for nine years.  Past reports are available by contacting the Division of Conservation.

Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program Executive Summary

                                    CREP 2020 Annual Report Executive Summary (10/1/2109 to 9/30/2020)

Water Transition Assistance Program


Water Right Transition Assistance Program Benefits Landowners and Water Resources

WTAP is a voluntary, incentive-based program that permanently retires privately held irrigation water rights in exchange for payment by the State of Kansas. It is intended to help restore aquifers and recover stream flows in critically depleted target areas. The 2012 Kansas Legislature extended WTAP until June 30, 2022 based on past results of the recent pilot project.

The target areas currently designated include Rattlesnake Creek Sub-basin, Prairie Dog Creek Basin, and six “High Priority Areas” of Northwest Kansas Groundwater Management District No. 4.

WTAP bids cannot exceed $2,000 per acre-foot of the Historic Consumptive Water Use as calculated over the last ten years of actual annual water use of the water right(s) proposed for acceptance. Applications to accept partial water rights can also be considered. The award of WTAP grants for water right retirements is based on a competitive bidding process.

Applications which propose a financial contribution from a local entity may increase the priority of an application.


Water Right Transition Assistance Program Enrollment

For more information about WTAP enrollment opportunities, please contact Steve Frost at steve.frost@ks.gov or (785) 564-6622. 

WTAP Target Area Maps

WTAP VII - Rattlesnake Creek - Priority Areas

WTAP VII - Prairie Dog Creek - Priority Areas


07-03%20HPA-final GMD#4 HP Target Areas (2)

WTAP Target Areas 

map_SCC_GMD4_QRA_Rattlesnake_PrairieDog_092908_tr (2)

Water Right Transition Assistance Program Performance Report