A bill moving through the Kentucky General Assembly would establish a new board that would advise the state Energy and Environment Cabinet on water resources issues like drought preparedness.
House Bill 529 has already passed the Kentucky House and has received two readings in the Senate.
State Rep. Richard Heath of Mayfield is one of the bill’s sponsors. Heath says if the bill passes, the 11-member Kentucky Water Resources Board would promote water conservation in agricultural uses and provide the cabinet with recommendations on water use efficiency.
“We typically don’t think about a water problem in Kentucky until we have a drought and then it’s, you know, a scramble to try to figure out how the farmers are going to water their livestock or water their crops.”
The bill has the backing of the Kentucky Farm Bureau and that group would nominate candidates to become one of the board’s 11 members. Kentucky commissioner of agriculture Ryan Quarles is also urging lawmakers to pass the bill.
“I think this is an important first step to make sure the farmers have a seat at the table, if and when the time comes that water becomes an issue, or the use of water, how it’s used and who gets to use it," Heath said.
The board would also include Kentucky’s agriculture commissioner and the secretary of the Energy and Environment Cabinet - or their designees - as well as six members appointed by the governor to three-year terms.