Kansas Spent $17 Million Meant for Water Lawsuit

Kansas lawmakers accidentally spent $17 million set aside to finance litigation aimed at forcing Colorado and Nebraska to abide by water compacts. The embarrassing miscue, committed in 2007, set off alarms with some senators insisting upon reform in the method of writing appropriations bills and others demanding better tracking of money earmarked for specific purposes. "I would suggest we need to take a look at our accounting procedures," said Senator Laura Kelly (D-Topeka). Kansas' successful lawsuit against Colorado over violations of the Arkansas River Compact resulted in a U.S. Supreme Court decree requiring Colorado to reduce its groundwater pumping and to pay Kansas about $34 million in damages and interest. The payment allowed establishment of a fund in Kansas to continue legal work on water issues with border states. "So, we took Colorado's money and blew it?" asked Senator Janis Lee (D-Kensington).