What Is a Safe Yield Calculation with Respect to Groundwater?

A safe yield calculation is designed to ensure an adequate water supply within an aquifer. When an applicant applies for a new water right, a safe yield calculation is made by the applicable governing body. This may be the Division of Water Resources or the local groundwater management district.

The safe yield calculation takes into account all the wells in the vicinity of the proposed water right, the saturated thickness of the aquifer, and other factors. A mathematical formula may be used to ensure that adequate water exists in a given location. If the water right satisfies the safe yield calculation, then the applicant may proceed with the next steps in obtaining a water right.

If the water right violates a safe yield calculation, the applicant can still seek a waiver from the local governing body. If the waiver is not granted, the applicant likely can proceed with obtaining the water right. If a waiver is allowed, the applicant can pursue next steps in the process.

Safe yield calculations are a more recent requirement in the grand scheme of Kansas water law. Thus, unfortunately, many portions of aquifers in Kansas are highly over-appropriated. Safe yield calculations are thus vital to protecting water resources.

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