Weekly News - October 9, 2017
10/09/2017 - Weekly KRWA E-News
Rural Water Makes a Difference
When regulations don't make sense, responsible organizations that represent public water systems SPEAK UP and STAND UP! That is what is happening with State Rural Water Associations and National Rural Water Association (NRWA) as the NRWA is responding to the EPA Investigators' Review of EPA's Public Notice Rules. Kansas Rural Water Association has evaluated the costs of some of these rules and KRWA's reports have been cited to legislators and agencies on various occasions. Read about the latest efforts by National Rural Water in this regard.
City of Hiawatha Breaks Ground on New Water Treatment Plant
The City of Hiawatha broke ground last week on a new $3.5 million ion exchange water treatment plant, which is expected to be completed within 12 months. The city has been working toward addressing the ongoing problem of high nitrate levels in the city’s water supply. The new plant is expected to lower the nitrates in the water below the maximum contaminant level (MCL) of 10 mg/L as set by EPA and KDHE. “The groundbreaking is another exciting step towards finally being able to provide good quality drinking water to the citizens of Hiawatha,” said Mayor Steffen Shamburg. “It has been a very long process and there have been many people involved. I am just so happy that we have finally made it to this point and can move forward.”
Manhattan Approves Update to Grease Management Program
The city implemented a grease management permit program in 2012, in order to minimize sanitary sewer backups and overflow discharges. Manhattan requires permitting, grease interceptors and automatic grease removal devices in food service establishments. The updated plan changes the timing of the inspections, requires establishments to empty all grease removal devices at the time of inspection, requires an annual maintenance log, requires contractors who service the devices to register with the city, and implements the ability to make payments through utility bills or online. Abdu Durar, environmental compliance manager, said the city’s desire to meet the standards of EPA and the KDHE drove the program update. “We decided to do something tangible here to show that we’re serious about the problem with sewer backups,” Durar said.
Flint Hills Residents Expand Effort to Block Saltwater Injection Wells
A group of residents opposed to a saltwater injection well in the Flint Hills filed a motion with the KCC last week requesting a new hearing, alleging there were procedural errors in the permitting process. While others have decided not to appeal, they have broadened their efforts into a campaign to protest similar wells across several counties and lobby lawmakers for regulatory changes. “It’s our full intention to fight every one of them,” said Matfield Green resident Cindy Hoedel, who was opposed the Morris County well. “We don’t find it a satisfactory answer to drill, cause damage and then try to mitigate the damage,” Hoedel said. On Thursday, about two dozen demonstrators gathered outside the KCC headquarters to protest the permit.
New Initiative to Help Wildfire Victims
The State Conservation Commission has established a Kansas Wildfire Cost Share Initiative to assist landowners in 18 Kansas counties affected by record-setting wildfires of 2016 and 2017. Counties covered by the initiative include Barber, Clark, Comanche, Ellis, Ellsworth, Ford, Hodgeman, Lane, Lincoln, McPherson, Meade, Ness, Reno, Rice, Rooks, Russell, Seward and Smith. Under the initiative, local conservation districts will accept applications from affected landowners, through Oct. 31, and rank projects within their jurisdiction. State conservation division officials will consider recommendations submitted by the 18 counties and allocate $200,000 to be drawn from the state water plan. The percentage of cost sharing responsibility for landowners will vary by county. Priority will be given to addressing livestock water supply equipment, grass seeding, windbreaks and fencing that divides pastures used to control grazing.
City Uses Sonar to Assess Sewer Lines
There’s a wild web of aging sewer lines underneath Bellevue, the oldest city in Nebraska. And city officials are trying to get a better handle on their condition, knowing that a large swath of them are nearing or already past the end of their useful life. Using a device that emits and listens to a sequence of musical-like tones, called a sewer line rapid assessment tool (SL-Rat), the city contractors have looked at nearly 90 of the city’s 360 miles of sewer line. If the transmitter determines that a line is blocked or in poor condition, city workers then go back to figure out what’s causing the problem.
Wichita to Fix Flood-Prone Streets
The Wichita City Council this spring approved a storm water utility fee that is expected to generate about $1.4 million a year to help reduce street flooding. “Bleckley Drive is a prime example” of an area badly in need of improved drainage, said James Hardesty, the city’s interim storm water drainage manager. “It’s the first one on our list.” The fee “allows us to begin the process of fixing these expensive chronic problems that we all know are there and there’s never any funding for it,” Hardesty said. Bleckley Drive, a winding street east of Oliver, isn’t protected by Wichita’s “Big Ditch.” It floods rapidly in a heavy rain, behaving like a creek with a concrete basin. “There are dozens of projects throughout the city that are being considered and ranked,” Hardesty said.
KDHE Offers New Solid Waste Grants
KDHE announced last week that they are launching a new grant program focused on recycling and composting. The competitive Solid Waste grants are designed to support existing recycling and composting programs, and encourage the development of new programs. Kansas counties, municipalities, solid waste management regions, and private entities may apply for grants to fund new or existing waste reduction projects and associated public education materials. The application period is Oct. 1 to Dec. 15. Grant awards will be announced in March 2018. Forms and guides can be found on the KDHE website.
Ogallala Education: Kansas Youth Making a Difference
Spreading the word about Kansas water resources and its conservation is part of the state’s water vision. With that in mind, a Holcomb High School sophomore, Grace Roth, is working to make a difference in her own area of Kansas — one where the water table has been depleting for about eight decades. “We want to get more western Kansas kids involved — that is important to us,” she said. “If we are going to save water, we need to know how to do it and how to start.”
EPA Tours Western Kansas to Learn More About Dryland Agriculture and Herbicide-Resistant Weeds
The KSU Weed Science group, in conjunction with the Weed Science Society of America and several co-sponsoring commodity organizations, recently hosted a tour of western Kansas for U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials from Washington, D.C. and the Kansas City regional office. A tour such as this creates the opportunity for dialog between growers and regulators regarding herbicide use and regulation. Dallas Peterson, K-State Research and Extension weed specialist, said the tour aimed “to help tour participants better understand dryland agriculture and the difficulties of managing herbicide-resistant weeds.”
KRWA Participates in Hazard Mitigation Planning
Kansas Rural Water Association has been invited to participate in the 2018 Kansas Hazard Mitigation Plan Update process. Doug Helmke and Ken Kopp of KRWA met with the Hazard Mitigation Team to start the update process in Topeka on September 26. Having an up-to-date hazard mitigation plan is a critical requirement to securing FEMA mitigation funding. The team will be updating the plan last adopted in 2013, which can be found on the Kansas Division of Emergency Management website. While not confirmed yet, it is anticipated that the top 5 High Hazards of Flood, Tornado, Windstorm, Winter Storm and Wildfire will not change.
KRWA Training Calendar
October 10, 2017 - Chanute
October 11, 2017 - Chanute
Sampling and Distribution Monitoring
October 17-20, 2017 - Garden City
Cross Connection - Backflow Prevention
October 18, 2017 - Mayetta
Basic Water System Operations
October 24, 2017 - Mayetta
Being Better Prepared for the Next Emergency
October 25, 2017 - Hays
Being Better Prepared for the Next Emergency
October 26, 2017 - South Hutchinson
Being Better Prepared for the Next Emergency
While no improvement has yet been indicated on the Kansas portion of the U.S. Drought Monitor, an early October storm brought substantial rainfall and much needed drought relief to many areas of Kansas. Some of the storms produced hail and significant rainfall resulting in flash flooding. According to the National Weather Service, at least one significant tornado producing supercell thunderstorm moved across Gove County on Oct. 2. This storm initially developed in Wichita County near the town of Leoti. The storm progressed northeast across northern Scott County and eventually into Gove County. In Scott County, this storm produced three tornadoes, one of which moved into Gove County. An additional three tornadoes occurred over Gove County, impacted areas near Gove City and in the town of Quinter. These storms also produced significant rainfall, resulting in numerous roads being closed due to flash flooding.