Weekly News - Feb. 12, 2018
02/12/2018 - Weekly KRWA E-News
Lawrence Misses KDHE Deadline to Submit New Farmland Groundwater Cleanup Plan
The city of Lawrence’s deadline for developing a new plan to deal with an excess of nitrogen-contaminated groundwater collected from the former nitrogen fertilizer plant was Feb. 1. KDHE officials told the Journal-World Monday that although they had not yet received the plan, the city is making progress. “The City has complied with all other conditions for the remediation water release,” KDHE spokesman Jerry Kratochvil said in an email. “At this time the City of Lawrence is making a good-faith effort to develop their plan and they are in the process of hiring a consulting firm to develop and finalize such a plan.” KDHE authorized the city to release up to 30 million gallons of nitrogen-contaminated water into the Kansas River from November to April after the city’s water storage and disposal system became insufficient. One of the conditions of that authorization was that the city submit a new plan, “thereby assuring this situation does not reoccur.” The authorization also requires the city to monitor the level of ammonia, nitrate and nitrite to ensure they are diluted to safe levels.
Clinton Lake Water Set to Become More Expensive for Public Water Suppliers
It’s going to cost the city of Lawrence and other local public water utilities more to get water from Clinton Lake. Driving the increases is the Dec. 29, 2019, expiration of Clinton Lake marketing contracts that Lawrence, Baldwin City and Douglas County rural water districts have with the Kansas Water Office. The contracts, which date to 1977, allow the public water utilities to draw raw water from Clinton Lake at the rate of 10 cents per 1,000 gallons. The Kansas Water Office has informed the City of Lawrence and other water utilities that the cheaper, fixed-rate marketing contracts for Clinton Lake won’t be renewed when they expire. Instead, they will offer only variable-rate marketing contracts, which currently amount to nearly four times as much. The City of Lawrence has started working with the other public water suppliers that rely on contract water from Clinton Lake to develop a proposal for a single pooled variable-rate contract proposal to help soften the blow to those smaller water suppliers when the rates increase. The water office also informed Lawrence and other water utilities that Clinton Lake can no longer sustain the water withdrawals available under the current marketing contracts and that there will be reduced allocations when those contracts expire.
Parsons Works with Engineering Firm to Correct Faulty Water Flowmeter at Lake
The city is taking another step toward replacing a faulty flow meter at Lake Parsons to satisfy state requirements. City Manager Debbie Lamb notified city commissioners during a Thursday work session that Olsson Associates, will design a new flowmeter for the lake spillway at a cost of $6,000. Last August, KDA/DWR fined the city $2,000 over the faulty meter. The existing meter, besides being inaccurate, is unsafe to reach, requiring workers to crawl out on a pipe. It’s also difficult to calibrate. The new meter will use ultrasonic technology to measure the flow of the water. Derek Clevenger, director of city utilities, estimates the new meter will cost $30,000. The city uses the lake as its raw water source.
Hays Mayor Expresses Frustration with Lack of R-9 Progress, State Communication
Mayor James Meier expressed frustration last week with a lack of progress at the state level regarding Hays’ change applications to obtain additional water from the city-owned R-9 Ranch in Edwards County. Hays filed applications with KDA/DWR approximately three years ago. “If you want to support your local community and you want to support the region, this is a project that needs to be supported,” Meier said. “This is a project that needs to be ushered through the bureaucratic process. ... It’s just become clear to me the proper resources have not been allocated to our change application process with DWR.” The controversial proposal would convert existing irrigation water rights at the nearly 7,000-acre R-9 Ranch, in Edwards County, to municipal use, and allow that water to be piped 35 miles to the City of Hays. The proposal will also require the Chief Engineer to hold a hearing in accordance with the Kansas water transfer act. City officials have previously indicated that they did not expect the process to take so long, but understood that the project is unprecedented in the state of Kansas, and it that was important to make sure all of the details are in perfect order.
Kansas Bill Would Earmark $8 Million in Lottery Proceeds for Water Programs
Frustration with an inability to properly finance Kansas water programs prompted consideration of a bill Thursday earmarking $8 million in state lottery proceeds for research, testing and remediation projects. The legislation would require appropriations to the State Water Plan to be drawn entirely from the Economic Development Initiatives Fund, which captures revenue from lottery ticket sales. Passage of House Bill 2528 would repeal a mandate the water plan rely primarily on general state tax revenue. Existing Kansas law directs $6 million in general fund revenue to the water plan and stipulates $2 million be taken from EDIF for the same purpose. These earmarks were suspended by the Legislature for the current and next fiscal year. The bill would simplify the math by taking the entire $8 million from EDIF. “I was simply looking for a more successful route for funding,” said Rep. Tom Sloan, a Lawrence Republican and sponsor of the bill. Sloan, chairman of the House Water and Environment Committee, said the bill would specify how half of the $8 million would be spent.
Trump’s Infrastructure Plan: Modest Federal Incentives, Facing Long Odds
President Trump on Monday (Feb. 12), will propose offering $100 billion in federal incentives to encourage cities and states to invest in road, bridge and other building projects, the centerpiece of a plan to spur $1.5 trillion in infrastructure spending over the next decade without devoting significant federal money. The proposal, to be unveiled the same day as Mr. Trump’s 2019 budget, faces long odds on Capitol Hill, where members of both parties — particularly Democrats — are skeptical of any plan that fails to create a dedicated new funding stream to address the nation’s crumbling infrastructure. Lawmakers are also doubtful that such a small federal investment will be sufficient to spur an infrastructure spending boom.
National Groundwater Awareness Week, March 11-17
The National Ground Water Association has announced this year’s National Groundwater Awareness Week (#GWAW2018) will take place March 11-17. An annual observance established to highlight the responsible development, management, and use of groundwater, the event is also a platform to encourage yearly water well testing and well maintenance to prevent waterborne illnesses. The 2018 #GWAW2018 theme of “Tend. Test. Treat.” was established to encourage a more holistic approach to sustain an adequate supply of quality groundwater. NGWA encourages every person to be a “groundwater advocate” both during National Groundwater Awareness Week and beyond by protecting and conserving groundwater.
KRWA Training Calendar
Feb. 15: Garden City
Complying with Drinking Water Regulations
Feb. 20: Maize
Activated Sludge (Session Filled)
Feb. 22: Park City
Coaching Your Community Through Utility Rate Increases
March 27-29: Wichita
KRWA Annual Conference & Exhibition
Drought continues to expand across the southern plains, particularly in southwest Kansas, western Oklahoma and the Texas panhandle. According to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor, extreme drought expanded in those regions, with a corresponding increase in severe drought noted in central Texas and eastern Oklahoma. From Lubbock, Texas, northward into Oklahoma and Kansas, little — if any — rain or snow has fallen over the past 90 to 120 days. The drought conditions are likely the result of cold surface temperatures that are currently occurring in the southern pacific ocean, known as La Niña, which affects global weather patterns. Most models predict that La Niña will decay during the spring, but will continue to affect temperature and precipitation across the United States over the next few months. According to KSU Extension Agronomy, the February outlook has a slight chance for drier-than-normal conditions in the southern half the state, and equal chances for above- or below-normal precipitation in the rest of the state. Given the low amount of moisture that typically is seen in February, improvement in the current drought status is unlikely. With the wet summer last year and current dryness, increased fire danger continues. The National Significant Wildland Fire Potential Outlook also forecasts a warmer and drier spring, with fire activity to increase through February, March and April.
Current U.S. Drought Monitor maps for:
Kansas, High Plains Region and North-Central Region