- Associated Press - Saturday, June 4, 2016

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback is crediting recent weeks of heavy rains for making the state drought-free for the first time in more than five years.

Brownback’s office on Thursday made the declaration that all counties are free of drought, though the U.S. Drought Monitor has said that’s been the case since the week of May 17. Brownback’s office says that’s the first time that’s happened since April 2011.

“Agriculture plays a key role in the Kansas economy, and this is particularly good news for our farmers and ranchers,” the Republican governor said in a statement. “Water is a precious resource and the fact that Kansas is officially drought free for the first time in more than five years, is excellent news.”

Brownback’s office encouraged Kansans to take steps to conserve water through daily habits in an effort to lessen the effects of the next drought, whenever it may strike.

“Drought response over the past several years as well as all water resource management has been a collective effort of all Kansas citizens and county and state officials,” said Tracy Streeter, the Kansas Water Office’s director who chairs the governor’s drought response team.

That group has been monitoring precipitation, reservoir and public water conditions, stream flow, soil moisture, climate and other factors.

“This break in drought now gives the response team an opportunity to evaluate how we did in drought mitigation and prepare for the next drought, which we know will come,” Streeter said.

We encourage cities and rural water districts to also evaluate conservation and drought response plans to improve on lessons learned.”

Much of Kansas had been in midst of some level of drought as recently as April.


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