Weekly News - Mar. 12, 2018
03/12/2018 - Weekly KRWA E-News
KHI Report Identifies Purified Wastewater as Solution to Kansas Water Needs
Communities should consider ways to reclaim wastewater as part of a long-term strategy for sustaining water supplies, the Kansas Health Institute recommended in a study of the health effects of reusing water. The report’s authors recently told lawmakers in a presentation to the House Water and Environment Committee that a community’s health depends on available water and the willingness of residents to overcome the psychological “yuck” factor of using treated and purified wastewater. “Just because you choose to live in a smaller community shouldn’t mean that you should be denied anything,” said Rep. Ken Rahjes, R-Agra. “You just have to find different, unique ways of coming up with solutions. That’s what we’re trying to do when we’re looking at the future of water.” KHI’s report is a response to the state’s Water Vision, crafted at the urging of former Gov. Sam Brownback in 2013. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment should develop consistent regulations, incorporating best practices and water monitoring, the report said.
New Director of Environment Named at KDHE
After serving on an interim basis following the retirement of former director John Mitchell, Leo Henning was officially named the Director of Environment for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) on Friday, Mar. 2. “I have received outstanding feedback from both internal and external stakeholders regarding Leo’s approach and the actions he has taken during his short time as interim director,” Acting Secretary Jeff Andersen said. “I have great confidence in Leo’s leadership going forward in the Division of Environment.” Henning, who has worked at KDHE for 25 years, has been the Director of the Bureau of Environmental Remediation for the past four years. Henning received a bachelor’s and master’s degree in geology from Wichita State University and is a licensed professional geologist.
NRWA Statement on Small Water Systems – False Narrative
The National Rural Water Association (NRWA) cautions policymakers against accepting the “false narrative” that small and rural community water systems are unsustainable and new federal statutory and regulatory authority to usurp local governments’ authority is the answer. The narrative continues to be promoted from self-serving interests who stand to financially benefit from additional mandatory consolidation and privatization of small community water utilities. Some regulatory agencies are also supporting this narrative because of the administrative burden associated with the larger number of small community water systems.
Wildfires Burn More Than 25,000 Acres Across Kansas
Over 50 wildfires erupted across Kansas last week, burning more than 25,000 acres, state officials said Wednesday. A wildfire in Ellis County led to the evacuation of farmsteads near Catharine, in northern Kansas. Four UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and about 16 soldiers from the Kansas National Guard were deployed to support firefighting efforts there. Two helicopters dumped water on the fires while two others were on standby if needed, said Katie Horner, a spokeswoman for the Kansas Adjutant General’s office. Wind gusts topped 70 miles at Garden City and Scott City and reached 60 miles an hour in parts of northern and central Kansas on Tuesday. Traffic on Interstate 70 was rerouted to Highway 40 on the south end of Hays due to limited visibility, which was just one of several road closings caused by wildfires and blowing dust. Farther west, the interstate was closed for about 38 miles between Goodland and Colby because of blowing dirt. Black Hawk helicopters and soldiers were again dispatched to Greenwood County on Wednesday for a fire suppression mission near the town of Hamilton, where 1,300 acres were burned.
Plan to Divert 'Extra' Platte River Water to Republican River Gains Steam
Nebraska’s proposed “Platte Republican Diversion Project” would transfer Platte River water via Turkey Creek to the Republican River and would be the state’s first trans-basin diversion project. The primary objective is to help ensure the state’s compliance with an interstate compact that allocates certain percentages of the Republican River’s flows to Nebraska, Kansas and Colorado, said John Thorburn, general manager of the Tri-Basin Natural Resources District in Holdrege. Nebraska water regulators have worked for several years to avoid violating the compact and triggering court sanctions. The U.S. Supreme Court ordered Nebraska to pay Kansas $5.5 million for its overuse of about 70,000 acre-feet of water during 2005 and ’06. The court made it clear that the cost of a future violation could be significantly greater. “This is precedent-setting for Nebraska,” Thorburn said. “We’d be taking otherwise ‘wasted’ water to be put to good use for a beneficial purpose.”
Water Conservation Field Day Scheduled for April 13 in Garden City
The City of Garden City and the Upper Arkansas Regional Advisory Committee are hosting a Water Conservation Field Day in Garden City on April 13. Lunch will be provided along with a bus tour of conservation projects within and around the city. The Kansas Water Office requires preregistration by April 6.
Kansas Farmers Cut Ogallala Water Use – And Still Make Money
A pair of recent economic and hydrological assessments by Kansas State University and the Kansas Geological Survey found that pumping restrictions did not damage farm profitability, and they aided the aquifer. In some cases, conservation even boosted earnings. “You can see a very clear response in the Sheridan LEMA,” Jim Butler, chief of the groundwater unit at the Kansas Geological Survey, told Circle of Blue. “It made a significant impact.” The lessons, if spread widely, could ease pressure on one of the nation’s most important sources of irrigation water. “This is a management change for producers, and with that comes more risk and fear,” Bill Golden, a Kansas State University professor and author of the economic analysis, told Circle of Blue. “It’s a challenge to get producers to accept that. But the evidence shows that they can use less water and be profitable.”
Why 'Cloud Seeding' is Increasingly Attractive to the Thirsty West
In January, a study funded by the National Science Foundation proved for the first time that the technology works in nature. Their study conducted in Idaho, was the first to show real-world observations of silver iodide forming ice crystals inside clouds and falling out as precipitation. This and other recent research, has helped make cloud seeding an attractive option for officials and companies desperate to increase the amount of water in rivers and reservoirs. State lawmakers can be reluctant to spend money on cloud seeding technology, particularly during tight budget years. Kansas' cloud seeding program has dwindled almost to nothing since the 1970s because of budget cuts.
KRWA Training Calendar
March 27-29: Wichita
KRWA Annual Conference & Exhibition
April 10: Salina
Water Operator Certification Training
April 12: Parsons
Wastewater Lagoon Operation and Maintenance
Large-scale deterioration was noted across the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles, northeastern New Mexico, and central and western Kansas. The U.S. Drought Monitor nearly doubled the area marked as "Extreme Drought" in Kansas. For the first time since June 3, 2014, "Exceptional Drought," the highest of the Drought Monitor’s classifications is now also being shown as occurring in small portions of south-central and southwest Kansas. The current 2-week and 1-month precipitation outlooks do not look very promising, which is especially worrisome, given the recent wildfire outbreaks. "The southern and western parts of the state – especially the far southwest – is just dangerously dry right now," Eric Ward a fire-planning specialist with K-State Research and Extension said in a recent press release. "This persistent dryness will make it much more difficult to stop any fire that does start." The release said it is normal for Kansas to be dry at the end of winter, but this year is worse. "I've been told that some areas of Kansas have now broken the state record for the most days without measurable precipitation," Ward said. "So, thinking back to the Dust Bowl days of the 1930s, we have now beaten that." A Fuels and Fire Behavior Advisory was issued for much of Kansas by the National Interagency Fire Coordination Center, on Mar. 7.
Current U.S. Drought Monitor maps for:
High Plains Region, North-Central Region and State of Kansas