Weekly News - Nov. 13, 2017
11/13/2017 - Weekly KRWA E-News
State Authorizes Lawrence to Release Nitrogen-Contaminated Water into Kansas River
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) has authorized the city to dispose up to 30 million gallons of nitrogen-contaminated groundwater from the former Farmland fertilizer plant into the Kansas River, from now until Apr. 1. When the city acquired the Farmland property in 2010, it became legally responsible for remediating decades of nitrogen fertilizer spills that contaminated the area groundwater. The original plan to dispense the water to local farmers was not sufficient and storage tanks at the site are at capacity. KDHE officials said they don’t expect any impact because the nitrogen will be heavily diluted. Under the KDHE authorization, the city cannot release more than 500,000 gallons of nitrogen water per day, said Tom Stiles, assistant director of the KDHE Bureau of Water. In addition, he said the discharge could only occur when the river flow is over 1,000 cubic feet per second. The city must test nitrogen and ammonia levels in the discharge and monitor for buildup of algae or plant growth downstream.
Governor Brownback: Ag Growth Relies on Water Conservation
Brownback spoke last week of his administration’s work on water policy to about 600 people attending the Governor’s Conference on the Future of Water in Manhattan. It was likely his last opportunity to address these conference participants given his pending nomination to serve as ambassador of international religious freedom. “We’ve got to keep working on the water issue,” Brownback said. “That’s going to be central. That’s going to be the key for us.” Brownback also said protecting the state’s water resources would sustain land prices, promote greater crop production and allow expansion of the agriculture footprint.
President Approves Kansas Disaster Declaration
The declaration from the president orders federal assistance to supplement state and local recovery efforts for areas affected by severe storms, straight-line winds, and flooding from July 22 to July 27. Federal funding is available for local and state governments and some private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repairs or replacements needed after the storm. Some federal funding also is available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation statewide.
Kansas Corporation Commission Reviews Wastewater Well Permit Errors
Owners of at least six wastewater wells that were issued permits by KCC were found to have incorrectly published a required public notice to inform residents of their proposed disposal wells. The public notification process is designed to allow residents 30 days to provide input to the KCC. The errors were discovered by Matfield Green resident Cindy Hoedel who has been a vocal opponent of such wells, including those recently permitted in the Flint Hills.
KU Trainings Provide Support to Supervisors and Managers
The KU Public Management Center offers training for technical experts who have moved into supervisory and management roles to hone the skills necessary for success in these positions. The 3-day Supervisory Leadership Training course is designed to ensure both new and experienced supervisors walk away with enhanced skills and new strategies for leading staff effectively. The Kansas Certified Public Manager® Program is a nationally accredited training which bring participants together for two days per month from January to November to strengthen their management skills. The investment in CPM impacts not just the individual manager’s performance but can also have significant effects on organizations as managers begin to apply the knowledge gained from the program. These Public Management Center programs serve individuals from government agencies, public utilities and other public service entities so participants engage with instructors and peers who share an understanding of the challenges and opportunities faced in these organizations. More information can be found at the links above or at the KUPMC website.
Crop Dusters Turning Fire Fighters
A training session was held in Hutchinson last week for members of the Kansas Agricultural Aviation Association to practice techniques for the Wildfire Aerial Suppression Program. The program is designed to help ground-based firefighters by providing the services of experienced ag pilots to do water drops from the air, which can suppress a fire very quickly and aids the fire crews on the ground, said Rhonda McCurry, the aerial association’s executive director. Over the past couple of years, as the state has faced more wildfires, the ag pilots have been a useful resource. Some have worked out agreements with local fire departments. “If we have a fleet of aircraft and pilots already trained it would be another tool in the toolbox,” said Rodney Redinger, a fire training specialist with the Kansas Forest Service and long-time rangeland firefighter. They are getting the Forest Service and Emergency Management on board and plan to have a map of Kansas available with all the aerial applicators who are trained to fly and drop water during a fire.
KRWA Training Calendar
November 14-17 - Manhattan
Cross Connection and Backflow Prevention
(Optional Full Certification/Re-certification/Information Only)
November 14 - Seneca
Introduction to Wastewater Collection System Operation and Rehabilitation
No significant changes in Kansas were noted in the latest U.S. Drought Monitor, released Nov. 7. Cold weather and light precipitation (about 0.5 inches or less) occurred across most of the High Plains region, including light snow blanketing parts of the Dakotas and northern Nebraska. Winter Weather Awareness Day for Kansas will be Wednesday, Nov. 15. Winter weather preparedness and safety information will be posted to the Topeka National Weather Service website and on NWS social media accounts. NWS also confirmed last week that La Niña has developed in the tropical Pacific Ocean and is likely to linger through the winter. La Niña affects weather all over the world. It is typically associated with warmer, drier conditions to the U.S. South and cooler, wetter weather in the Pacific Northwest. La Niña related conditions in Kansas can be quite variable, but it is thought to be one of the factors that contributed to a severe and widespread drought in Kansas and neighboring states, during 2011 and 2012. However, like the La Niña that developed at exactly the same time last year, this latest event appears to be a weak one. Unless it strengthens, its effects on Kansas weather will likely be somewhat subtle.