Kansas Division of Water Resources – Debunking Myths About Use It or Lose It Regarding Water Right Abandonment

Debunking Myths About “Use It or Lose It” Regarding Water Right Abandonment

“Based on conversations with water users, stakeholder organizations, and government officials, there seems to be widespread misconceptions that water rights can easily be lost if not exercised frequently,” said Lane Letourneau, Water Appropriation program manager for DWR. “The truth is the Kansas Water Appropriation Act sets a high standard for finding a water right abandoned.”

In order to help spread this message, we have assembled a list of common myths about “use it or lose it,” the oft-quoted saying that is sometimes accurate but often misrepresented, and the corresponding realities of Kansas water law related to abandonment of water rights:

Myth: If a water right owner doesn’t use water for three years, the state will take away their water right.

Reality: DWR is required by law to notify water users when they have reported three consecutive years of nonuse. However, a water right is not considered abandoned unless there are five consecutive years of nonuse without due and sufficient cause.

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