|Drought Committee Meeting, Scott City, 1936 (LC)|
In this article I examine legal responses to drought in Kansas since statehood in 1861 by persons and various levels of government. An article about drought should probably use or create a definition for the term. Although precision in such definitions can be important in some legal contexts, it is not required here. The term drought has many meanings. I have not adopted any one definition against which to examine the legal responses, but rather have chosen to accept and use some periods of Kansas drought identified by experts.
Even after identifying drought periods since statehood, one finds it difficult to discern whether a legal event during or following a drought has necessarily been a direct response to a particular drought or instead just a part of sound, long-term water resources planning efforts. Some state water planning efforts, such as the State Water Plan in Kansas, involve attempts to deal with droughts generally.
This article is essentially retrospective and descriptive, not prospective and analytical. Analyses of state drought programs outside Kansas have been conducted, including a recent one published by the American Water Resources Association, which described and analyzed case studies in proactive drought management in Texas, Oregon, Hawaii, and Oklahoma. Such a study of responses to drought in Kansas, along with comparative analysis with other states' drought management techniques and experience, would be a worthy project.