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Energy and Environment

Kansas Officials Consider Tougher Fines For Water Scofflaws

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Kansas officials are considering tougher penalties for people who chronically exceed water supply consumption limits or don't report how much water is pumped from wells.

Susan Metzger is assistant secretary of the state Department of Agriculture, she talked about changing penalties Thursday before an interim legislative committee. She said the $250 fine for not reporting water use isn't much of a deterrent. She said overdrawing water for a year gets a written notice.

Metzger said the department hasn't determined how much penalties would rise, or when it would take effect.

The talk of harsher penalties comes as western Kansas continues to deplete the Ogallala Aquifer. The agriculture department says irrigation accounts for 85 percent of water consumed in Kansas on average.