Weekly News - September 11, 2017
09/11/2017 - Weekly KRWA E-News
Controversial Wisconsin DNR Secretary Leaves Post for Region 7 EPA
The Trump administration recently appointed a new acting administrator for the regional office of the Environmental Protection Agency, headquartered in Lenexa. Cathy Stepp resigned her position as secretary of Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources to take the job here. As acting head of the Region 7 EPA, she’ll supervise 450 workers whose jobs are to protect the environment in Kansas, Missouri, Iowa and Nebraska. She does not need Senate approval. George Meyer, a former Wisconsin DNR secretary who now directs the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation has been one of her sharpest critics. “Of the seven DNR secretaries I have known, she clearly had the worst record in terms of standing up for protection of natural resources, whether it was water, air, or fish and wildlife,” said Meyer. During Stepp’s six-year tenure at Wisconsin DNR, fines for environmental violations dwindled, and the EPA twice stepped in to spur department action after residents complained of problems like manure-contaminated drinking water. Gov. Scott Walker, who appointed Stepp six years ago to instill a "chamber of commerce mentality" in the agency, said she used common sense while protecting the environment. "Cathy is a strong, trusted reformer, who will serve the country well at the EPA," Walker said. Stepp says she is excited about the possibility of bringing some of the reforms she’s been able to put in place to the national stage. "There is so much to share about what we have all done together."
Opposition Against Proposed Tyson Plant in Tonganoxie Continues to Grow
An overflow crowd attended Thursday morning’s Leavenworth County Commission meeting following Tyson’s announcement of plans to build a $320 million poultry processing plant near Tonganoxie. Residents voiced displeasure, as they did at Tuesday night’s Tonganoxie City Council meeting, about the proposed plans. Concerns raised included the secrecy that surrounded the project announcement, air and water quality worries, and previous lawsuits that have been filed against Tyson in other communities. Audience members peppered commissioners with questions about a nondisclosure agreement, voicing frustration that local governing bodies knew about Tyson’s intentions and didn’t inform the public. Governor Brownback, who participated in the public announcement last week, said he understands why some residents are upset and he’s encouraged by the response from Tyson, which operates facilities in six Kansas communities that employ about 5,700 people. “They’re going to comply with every state law and regulation we have. They are a corporate citizen here and have been for 50 years.” the governor said.
Scientific American: It’s Crucial to Upgrade America’s Water Infrastructure
Rivers and their infrastructure, like dams, reservoirs, and canals, matter for absolutely everyone. If we want to maintain forward momentum irrespective of whichever party wins any given election, it’s important we build a wide base of support by rejecting the increasingly common—and false—notion that there can only be two ways of viewing the world, one which is protective of water, rivers, and the environment, and the other not.
Skepticism Grows About Brownback, Colyer Optimism on Ogallala’s Future
As Brownback prepares to leave office and hand the reins to Colyer, the Republican politicians told audiences in Topeka, Manhattan, Hoxie and Garden City that their administration’s call for a 50-year vision for managing Kansas water resources had served as catalyst for interest in voluntary conservation to extend useful life of the aquifer. The Sheridan County (SD-6) Local Enhanced Management Area (LEMA) near Hoxie sought a reduction in groundwater usage in an attempt to extend the life of the aquifer. Organizations, such as the Kansas Rural Center and the Sierra Club, remain skeptical. “It’s way too early to declare victory on decline of the Ogallala. They need more evidence before making statements about sustainability,” said Craig Volland, agriculture chairman of the state’s Sierra Club chapter. “Realistically, we are talking about reducing the rate of decline or stabilizing water levels,” according to Jim Butler, senior scientist and geohydrology section chief at KGS. “Replenishment of the aquifer is really not in the cards.”
Public Hearing on GMD No. 4 LEMA Proposal Held in Colby
KDA’s Division of Water Resources held a public hearing on Aug. 23, in Colby, to determine if Northwest Kansas Groundwater Management District No. 4 should implement a district-wide LEMA. Similar to the Sheridan County (SD-6) LEMA already implemented in a smaller portion of the district, the proposed plan would limit water use in an attempt to extend the life of the Ogallala Aquifer by creating a larger GMD-wide LEMA covering all or portions of Cheyenne, Decatur, Rawlins, Gove, Graham, Logan, Sheridan, Sherman, Thomas and Wallace counties. The purpose of the initial hearing was to determine if the GMD 4 LEMA Management Plan satisfies the three initial requirements for approval as set forth in K.S.A. 82a-1041, namely whether groundwater levels in the area in question are declining or have declined, whether the public interest requires that one or more corrective control provisions be adopted and whether the geographic boundaries are reasonable. Several people reportedly testified against the proposal as a whole. The Kansas Livestock Association also provided written testimony in opposition of the formula developed to determine the reduction in quantity for stockwatering. No reductions have been proposed for public water suppliers in the current proposal, but municipal water right holders would be encouraged to reduce per capita usage (GPCD) and unaccounted for water (UFW). If the independent hearing officer, Constance C. Owen, decides the proposal meets the three criteria, a subsequent hearing would be scheduled to actually determine whether GMD 4’s proposed LEMA management plan should be adopted and the area designated as a LEMA.
Bottled Water is More Popular Than Pepsi and Coke — Why You Should Avoid All Three
While the fizzy soda category has experienced an annual volume sales decline since 2003, bottled water grew every year over the last two decades, except 2009 during the depths of the Great Recession, driven by consumer concerns about the effects of artificial sweeteners and sugar. Soda and sugary drinks may lead to an estimated 184,000 deaths each year among adults from diabetes, heart disease and other obesity-related illnesses. But sugar-shy consumers are shying away from diet soda too. Several recent studies have linked diet soda and cardiovascular disease and showed a correlation (if not a causation) between cancer and aspartame and another recent study argued that diet soda is correlated to dementia and strokes in older people. There is some irony for people who believe bottled water is spring water, sourced from some Alpine mountain peak or green meadow: Some 45% of bottled water brands are sourced from the municipal water supply — the same source as what comes out of the tap, according to Peter Gleick, a scientist and author of “Bottled and Sold: The Story Behind Our Obsession with Bottled Water.”
Kansas Communities and Water Systems Encouraged to Plan Now to Participate in The National Prescription Drug Take Back Day
The National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on Oct. 28 aims to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs. When flushed into the wastewater systems, these compounds and drugs can be detected in treatment outflow and can end up in creeks, streams, and rivers. The long-term implications for wildlife and human health are largely unknown. During the previous National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day in April, a record-setting 450 tons of unwanted medications were collected by DEA at almost 5,500 sites in all 50 states.
Kansas Pest Control Company Under Investigation for Possible Illegal Disposal of Toxic Chemicals
An investigation began after a car wash owner noticed turquoise pellets and unopened packages of industrial grade rat poison in one of his car wash bays. The owner says his video surveillance shows an employee of Pied Piper Termite and Pest Control washing out the bed of a company truck. An inspection report by the Kansas Department of Agriculture noted, "The firm improperly disposed of Contrac Rodenticide... by washing the bait out of the back of a service vehicle," and "Left a Contrac Rodenticide Place Pac on the floor of the car wash," in violation of Kansas law. The incident remains under investigation.
Construction Taking Place at Jamestown Wildlife Area
Over the coming months, construction crews will build a division berm in Gamekeeper Marsh, and raise Gamekeeper Dam 18 inches to accommodate the increased sediment load the marsh has taken on the last several decades. The berm construction and dam increase will allow area managers to flood a larger area and better control water elevations, to manage for optimum moist soil production and increased hunting opportunities.
Registration Opens for Annual Governor’s Conference on Water
The annual Governor’s Conference on the Future of Water in Kansas will be held November 8-9, in Manhattan. The conference brings together scientists, water managers, state and federal officials and legislators, city and county administrators, environmental organizations, irrigators and citizens who share an interest in Kansas water resources. Registration is limited and has sold out in the previous years.
Tuttle Creek Dam Projects Set to Begin
Contractors will rehabilitate service gates 3 and 4 in the lakeside intake tower, rehabilitate the stilling basin below the dam and replace the bridge deck over the dam’s spillway east of the dam. When the stilling basin project and spillway bridge deck project overlap, River Pond State Park access will only be available to eastbound traffic across the dam on K-13. The projects will not affect the lake level variations and the Corps of Engineers have made plans to regulate outflows and remove workers and construction equipment in the case of a high-water event that would require use of the spillway.
KRWA Training Calendar
September 19-22 - Lawrence
Cross Connection - Backflow Prevention
September 19 - Liberal
Competent Person for Trenching and Excavation
September 20 - Liberal
Confined Space Training
October 3, 2017 - Holton
Competent Person for Trenching and Excavation
October 4, 2017 - Holton
Confined Space Training
According to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor, conditions in Kansas improved very little during the last report period. Streamflow and soil moisture in parts of central and Northeast Kansas remain below normal and satellite vegetation indicators depict the stress on vegetation. Drought conditions continued to intensify in the Pacific Northwest. Smoke from devastating wildfires across the region traveled along the jet stream and stretched to the East Coast, resulting in some spectacular sunsets across the sunflower state.