Monday, September 27, 2021
"An investment in Knowledge pays the best Interest."

Ben Franklin's words still ring true today. So we pick out the most appropriate articles in current events and news regarding the Water Industry both nationally and in Kansas to filter the most pertinent information for you.

E-News for Sept. 13, 2021

09/13/2021 - Weekly KRWA E-News

Kansas Water Plan Virtual Public Hearing Dates Set
The Kansas Water Office (KWO), in coordination with feedback from local, state, federal and interstate partners, is currently developing the 5-year update of the Kansas Water Plan (KWP). The KWP is one of the primary tools used by the State of Kansas to address current water resources issues and to plan for future needs. The entire draft Kansas Water Plan being presented for formal public comment can be found on the KWO website. Virtual public hearings for receiving comments on the draft KWP will take place on Oct. 7, and Oct. 8. Written comments are also being accepted until midnight on Oct. 15. [source]


Kansas Superfund Site Added to National Priorities List
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced last week that it is adding four sites to the National Priorities List (NPL), including the Cherokee Zinc-Weir Smelter Superfund site in Weir, Kansas, where releases of contamination pose significant human health and environmental risks. The National Priorities List (NPL) includes the nation’s most serious uncontrolled or abandoned releases of contamination. The list serves as the basis for prioritizing EPA Superfund cleanup funding and enforcement actions. Only releases at sites included on NPL are eligible to receive federal funding for long-term, permanent cleanup. The Cherokee Zinc-Weir Smelter Site is located on the north side of the city of Weir, Cherokee County, Kansas, in the Arkansas-White-Red Region watershed. The Chicago Zinc Works began smelting zinc in 1873 and chose Weir as its location, due to nearby commercial coal deposits available to fuel the smelter and to the proximity to the Tri-State lead and zinc mining district. According to historical information, smelting operations closed in approximately 1918 when natural gas wells in other areas of Kansas made smelter operations using coal less profitable. Between 2004 and 2013, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) conducted soil testing at the former smelter as well as nearby properties. Lead in soil was identified as the primary contaminant of concern. Arsenic, cadmium, lead, and zinc concentrations were also detected in soil, smelter waste, groundwater, sediment, and surface water above state and federal action levels. About 18,274 cubic yards of impacted soils and smelter waste is onsite. [source]


Farmers Restore Native Grasslands as Ogallala Groundwater Disappears
Farmers are facing tough choices in parts of Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma. For decades, the Texas Panhandle was green with cotton, corn and wheat. Wells drew a thousand gallons a minute from the seemingly bottomless Ogallala aquifer, allowing farmers to thrive despite frequent dry spells and summer heat. But groundwater that sustained generations is drying up, creating another problem across the Southern plains: Without enough rain or groundwater for crops, soil can blow away — as it did during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. “We wasted the hell out of the water,” says Muleshoe, Texas, farmer Tim Black, recalling how farmers irrigated when he was a kid. Water flooded furrows or sprayed in high arcs before farmers adopted more efficient center-pivot systems. His grandfather could reach water with a post-hole digger. Black is lucky to draw 50 gallons (189 liters) a minute from wells up to 400 feet (122 meters) deep. Black, a former corn farmer, plants native grasses on corners of his fields, as pasture for cattle and between rows of wheat and annual grass.The transition to grasslands and conservation is hindered by federal crop insurance and conservation programs often work at cross purposes and an agricultural banking system that makes it difficult to obtain loans for anything other than conventional farming and equipment. [source]


Grant Money Is Out There for People Who Can Write Applications
With Congress expected to finish its work on a $1 trillion infrastructure bill in the coming weeks -- and potentially an even larger social spending bill -- that will put a lot of money on the table for rural communities that are set up to get a share. Yet, a lot of communities struggle to go out and get those funds because they don't have anyone who can write grant applications in a competitive environment. Those communities get left behind. "There's a lot of available programs out there that aren't being utilized in these rural counties because they don't have someone who can navigate the grant application," said Deena Fisher, dean emeritus of Northwestern Oklahoma State University who became a volunteer grant writer for community services in Woodward, Oklahoma. "It's so needed and that's what I spend a lot of my time working on." Once the infrastructure bill becomes law, there could be as much as $65 billion available just for broadband funding that will be scattered across multiple federal departments and agencies. Then there will be new money for programs dealing with rural water and waste-water treatment, energy efficiency, renewable energy and other areas such as recreation and tourism. "You really have to begin, like right now, because you're going to be behind when those grant applications come out." [source]


Russell Approves New Design for Water Tower
Russell's Proposed Water Tower DesignRussell recently organized a water tower design contest to create a new design for the south water tower. The painting of the tower is part of a scheduled maintenance program, of which a design or logo is included. Several designs were submitted, with one being of most interest to the Council. The presented design was submitted by Scott Nuss. As advertised, the winning designer will receive $250 in Chamber Bucks and design attribution noted on the City website. Sandblasting and painting of the south water tower will begin in the coming weeks and is included in the annual maintenance agreement. The water tower will be painted white with "Welcome to Russell Home of the Broncos" painted on the tank, accompanied by the Russell High School Champion mascot logo. [source]


Kansas Needs To Hurry To Stop An Invasive Grass From Changing The Prairie Forever
Decades ago, humans introduced Old World bluestem, or OWB, to this part of the Plains. But some of the characteristics that made OWB an attractive import — its aggressive growth, prolific seed production and hardy tolerance to drought, fire and grazing — are the same ones that make it so difficult to reign in. Once it dominates a field, it’s nearly impossible to eradicate. Now, Old World bluestem is transforming pastures and grasslands into biodiversity wastelands. Some researchers and landowners are rushing to sound the alarm in hopes of helping more people understand how Kansas can keep this invasive grass from overtaking the state — if it’s not already too late. Both types of Old World bluestem growing in Kansas — yellow bluestem and Caucasian bluestem — are native to Asia and Europe. And like most invasive species, people brought them to the Great Plains on purpose. One of the more sinister ways OWB dominates a pasture is by chemically changing the soil to be less habitable for neighboring vegetation. The invasive grass releases substances, known as allelopathic chemicals, into the dirt that surrounds it. Hickman’s research shows that this biochemical warfare significantly inhibits the future growth, reproduction and survival of nearby native grasses. Once an Old World bluestem infestation takes root, its impact on the native ecosystem can be dramatic. Fewer native plants means fewer insects, especially bees and butterflies that rely on wildflowers. Fewer native plants and insects means fewer birds, such as lesser prairie chickens and songbirds.


New Mosasaur Species Uncovered in Kansas
The discovery of a new species of Ectenosaurus (Mosasauridae: Plioplatecarpinae) was reported in a paper published last week in the Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences. The fossilized jaw was collected in Logan County, Kansas. The ancient creature inhabited the Western Interior Seaway, a shallow body of marine water that divided the North American continent into two distinct landmasses 80 million years ago. Ectenosaurus mosasaurs are unusual for how few specimens have been found in the genus compared to other mosasaurs.“In western Kansas we have over 1,500 mosasaur specimens,” Dr. Konishi said. “Out of those we can only find one specimen each representing these two species of Ectenosaurus. That’s sort of crazy.” [source]


KRWA Sponsored Water & Wastewater Training
Sept. 21: Chemical Feed Pumps & What They Deliver (Online)
Sept. 22: Competent Person for Trenching and Excavation (Pittsburg)
Sept. 23: Confined Space Entry (Pittsburg)
Sept. 28: Chlorine Coming to a Distribution System Near You (Wichita)
Sept. 29: Operation and Maintenance of Wastewater Collection Systems (Hays)
Sept. 29: Distribution Tools & Practices (Salina)
Sept. 30: Locating What's Underground (Mayetta)
Oct. 13: Competent Person for Trenching and Excavation (Great Bend)
Oct. 13: Introduction to Cybersecurity (Online - Sessions fill fast!)
Drought Monitor
Some areas in Kansas that had been marked as Abnormally Dry (D0) were removed from the U.S. Drought Monitor map last week in response to rainfall activity. The heaviest rainfall in the region during the drought week was observed in eastern Kansas where accumulations ranged from 2 to 7 inches. Moderate Drought (D1) was also erased in the central part of the state. But other areas that had been marked with Moderate to Severe Drought (D2) in northwest and south-central counties remain unchanged on the latest map. Meanwhile, a La Niña Watch remains in effect for this fall and winter. A forecast issued last week by NOAA/CPC indicates that a transition from ENSO-neutral to La Niña remains favored over the next couple of months, with a 70-80% chance of La Niña forming during the Northern Hemisphere winter 2021-22. As far as strength goes, forecasters currently believe the most likely scenario is a weak La Niña, though there is a roughly 1 in 3 chance it will be stronger.  
Kansas portion of the U.S. Drought Monitor for Sept. 9, 2021.
Current U.S. Drought Monitor maps for:
Arkansas River Basin, High Plains Region, North-Central RegionSouthern Plains Region and State of Kansas