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Kansas Eyeing Missouri River For Irrigation

Kansas water officials want to discover how feasible it would be to build a 360-mile aqueduct. The aqueduct would tap the Missouri River to support agriculture in western parts of the state.

Tracy Streeter with the Kansas Water Office told legislators Tuesday the study would begin next year and take about 18 months to complete.

Officials want to divert as much as 4 million acre-feet of water and sending it west, to help support irrigated farming of corn and other crops.

Streeter says it's likely other states will try to allocate some of the Missouri's flow in coming years.

The river begins in Montana and travels through North Dakota and South Dakota, and along the borders of Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri and Kansas.

State Representative Sharon Schwartz is concerned about how farmers will pay for using the water in the future if grain prices fall and they can't afford the water.

Kansas farmers currently rely on the Ogallala Aquifer, which sustains agriculture and municipal water needs throughout the Great Plains region.

However, if farmers keep current use levels, the aquifer can not sustain the state's existing farming activities.

The cost to build the aqueduct is still being estimated.

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