Weekly News, August 7, 2017
08/07/2017 - Weekly KRWA E-News
Water Technology Farms Expanded and Field Days Scheduled
Kansas State University, Kansas Water Office and Northwest Kansas Technical College are hosting a series of Field Days to provide opportunities to learn about improving water use from local producers, irrigation companies, soil water sensor dealers and others. Each location will showcase the technologies that have been implemented and the results to date. In addition to the existing farms, 13 additional Water Technology Farms have been established with partners in Western Kansas. A short preview of producers speaking about their involvement in water conservation can be found on YouTube. “K-State is working with partners to help address questions and concerns about the new irrigation technologies so in the future, farmers will fully embrace the technology appropriate for their operation and situation,” said Jonathan Aguilar, water resource engineer with K-State Research and Extension. “Each farm is set up slightly different, depending on the primary concern the producer has. For example, one farm has three adjacent spans with different modes of application for comparison purposes. In all fields, soil moisture sensors are installed and tested for accuracy as feedback or for its performance in the different soil types.”
Loss of 350 miles of Great Plains Streams Causing Changes in Aquatic Food Web
Keith Gido, KSU Professor of Biology, and KSU alumnus, Josh Perkin, recently published “Groundwater declines are linked to changes in Great Plains stream fish assemblages,” in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Their research maps the loss of stream habitat for many small fish in the Great Plains region and attributes it to declining groundwater sources. “Not only have today’s rare fish — once common in Kansas — continued to decline, but we also found evidence that the fish that are common today may become rare fish in the future if this problem isn’t addressed,” Perkin said.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to Celebrate 50 Year Anniversary at Milford Reservoir
First authorized in 1954 with construction beginning in 1962, the newly completed Milford Dam first filled to its conservation pool level during the summer of 1967. To commemorate the anniversary, a ceremony will take place on Saturday, Aug. 12, at East Rolling Hills Park. Following the ceremony will be a family-focused afternoon in the outlet park. Events include a bicycle race, cardboard boat race and a 5K run/walk. According to the USACE website, the reservoir has prevented an estimated $165 million in flood damages over the last 50 years. The lake is also an important source of water for public water supply. Milford Lake has 15,700 surface acres of water and 163 miles of shoreline, making it the largest in Kansas.
Watershed District Celebrating 60 Years of Flood Control
To celebrate their 60th anniversary, patrons of Delaware Watershed Joint District No. 10, past board members, contractors, federal, state and local representatives are invited to a recently renovated watershed dam near Denison, on Sept. 21. The District was given its charter by the Kansas Secretary of State in 1957 and has since completed 136 flood control structures, more than any watershed district in Kansas. Counties that have land in the district are Atchison, Brown, Jackson, Jefferson and Nemaha.
Barnett Talks Agriculture and Water in Hays and Pratt
Republican gubernatorial candidate Jim Barnett conducted a listening tour in July and visited Hays and Pratt to hear and talk about agricultural issues, noting that water rights issues and the sustainability of the Ogallala Aquifer are a concern to many. “It’s a huge issue,” Barnett said, “not just here but southwest Kansas as well. We’ve talked with some people who feel like they’re reaching sustainability but yet more needs to be done.” Also in attendance during the Hays stop was Mike Morley, manager of corporate communications for Midwest Energy, who spoke about how sustainability of the aquifer is a concern to many of the cooperative’s customers. Midwest Energy serves the Sheridan County Local Enhanced Management Area (SD-6 LEMA). “It’s kind of a harbinger of what could be done in other parts of the state," Morley said. "That’s our hope is that will catch on in other districts." In Pratt, Barnett visited with Ken Montgomery of Pratt Feeders, who discussed water use and operations at their feedlot and stated that the area needs to save water resources for future use.
Kansas City Hopes to Deal with Rising Water bills
The Kansas City Water Cost of Service Task Force met last week to study the problem of soaring water bills. The task force was created by Mayor Sly James last year to develop a forward-looking funding strategy for the city's three utilities, water, wastewater and stormwater. One solution put forth is to try and change a settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that requires the city spend up to $5 billion to fix its stormwater system.
EPA Program to Clean Up Toxic Sites Gets Attention on Capitol Hill
The budget proposal President Trump submitted to Congress earlier this year called for slashing Superfund spending in the upcoming 2018 fiscal year by roughly $330 million to $762 million. There are currently 1,336 sites on the National Priorities List. Entries on the list include places like a 5.8-acre property in Edison Township, New Jersey where Chemical Insecticide Corp. manufactured and packaged pesticides before going bankrupt in 1970 and the 4,525-acre U.S. Magnesium site, 40 miles west of Salt Lake City, Utah, where contaminants such as arsenic, chromium, mercury and chlorine gas have been detected. There are also several listed sites in Kansas. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has questioned why contaminated sites have lingered on the list for decades in some cases and has identified the Superfund program as one of his priorities and has appointed a task force to look at ways the program could be improved.
Black Sewage Plume at Niagara Falls Raises Flags
The Niagara Falls wastewater treatment plant is alleged to have violated water quality standards when it discharged foul-smelling, black-colored water into the Niagara River just below the falls. NY DEC staff is poring through records and has sent a team of investigators to the treatment plant. One agency official described what’s underway as a “wholesale” examination of the facility’s operation. Both the Maid of the Mist and Rainbow Air tour boats took to social media to express their concerns, posting a video and photographs of the dark, sludgy-looking water, with the tourism industry describing the incident as a “disaster” during a very busy tourist weekend. Niagara County elected officials are seeking water board resignations over the fiasco and are asking the county district attorney and state attorney general to investigate whether criminal charges are warranted. Except for the inky color, the discharge is part of the normal operations of the plant, a Niagara Falls Water Board spokesman said. Workers clean out carbon beds that purify sewage about twice a year by back-flushing them. The murky water had reportedly dissipated within 24 hours.
Authorities are Treating August's Solar Eclipse, a First in 99 Years, Like it's the End of the World
The upcoming solar eclipse—the first in 99 years to sweep across the continental United States—has so many fans that disaster-level preparations are being put in place because of the large number of travelers predicted to jockey for prime viewing spots. As many as 7.4 million people are expected to pack into a 70-mile-wide band across the U.S. to watch the moon’s umbra block out the sun for a two-minute window on Aug. 21. Once visitors arrive, they’ll need water, lodging and restrooms. Preparations resemble that for a blizzard or “everything from St. Patrick’s Day parade to a World Series celebration,” says Chris Hernandez, city spokesman for Kansas City, one of the larger metro areas in the path of the eclipse. All of those visitors are expected to clog interstates, along with state and local roads, for days before and after the eclipse, much like the rush during emergency evacuations, says Brad Kieserman, vice president of disaster operations and logistics for the American Red Cross. Atchison Public Schools have announced their schools will be closed that day, due to increasing numbers of visitors and potential traffic issues. The district made the decision after and conferring with city and EMS officials. A public water supplier in South Carolina plans to send out trucks to frequently refill planned water stations. There are also concerns about communications. All four nationwide carriers — AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint — are addressing the problem by rolling out surge capacity.
Giant Sign, Giant Mistakes on Water Tower at Wichita State University
Wichita State University’s name was discovered to be misspelled on a water tower near the campus last Friday. The water tower was being updated by the City to include current WSU logos. The last two letters of “State” and “University” were switched to say, “Wichita Staty Universite.” It was not immediately clear how and when the misspelled logo was painted on the structure. As images of the misspelling began to draw attention social media, the city tweeted, “We are ‘sory’ and will get it ‘fixted’ ‘A S I P.’” The water tower was fixed with the correct spelling within a few hours. “Contrary to popular opinion, it wasn’t an innovative way of getting national publicity. It just happened,” said WSU spokesman Joe Kleinsasser, chuckling. “And we’re just having fun with it.”
KRWA Training Calendar
August 10 - Manhattan
Water System Maintenance and Repair
August 10 - Ulysses
Wastewater Lagoon Operation and Maintenance
August 30 - Hoxie
Basic Water System Operations
August 30 - Pittsburg
Competent Person for Trenching and Excavation
August 31 - Pittsburg
Confined Space Training
Cooler temperatures and rainfall have been welcome in many parts of the state. The 8-14 day outlooks from the Climate Prediction Center, published Aug. 6, indicate this trend should continue for above normal rainfall and below normal temperatures. However, the U.S. Drought Monitor, released Aug. 3, continues to depict roughly half of the state as experiencing abnormally dry or moderate drought conditions.