Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles said on Friday he supports state legislation to develop a plan for ensuring that Kentucky has a steady, plentiful supply of water for agricultural uses.
“House Bill 529 provides a comprehensive approach for assessing Kentucky’s fresh water supply and preparing for times of drought,” Quarles said. “We applaud Kentucky Farm Bureau for taking a proactive approach on this important issue. Our lives depend on an abundant supply of fresh water, and I strongly urge the Kentucky Senate to approve this bill.”
House Bill 529 is bipartisan legislation that resulted from the work of Kentucky Farm Bureau’s Water Management Working Group (WMWG). The legislation would improve coordination among all interested parties involved in the Commonwealth’s water resources planning, management, and development.
Specifically, HB 529 creates the Kentucky Water Resources Board, which would be administered by the state Energy and Environment Cabinet. The board would conduct research and develop recommendations to enhance the quality of water resources accessible for agricultural production in the state. The legislation has no fiscal impact, but the board would help the cabinet seek financial resources and leverage funds to address water resource issues.
David Beck, executive vice president of Kentucky Farm Bureau, said the legislation would promote economic development opportunities by ensuring a long-term adequate supply of on-farm water resources for agriculture, thus alleviating pressure on rural/urban water supplies.
Quarles said the Kentucky Department of Agriculture would support the cabinet’s efforts to fulfill its duties under HB 529.
The bill passed the House by a unanimous vote of 95-0 and is awaiting Senate action. The first stop will be the Senate Agriculture Committee, chaired by Sen. Paul Hornback of Shelbyville.