E-News Nov. 14, 2022
11/14/2022 - Weekly KRWA E-News
Wells Running Dry in Southwest as Foreign-Owned Farms Guzzle Water to Feed Cattle
“You can’t take water and export it out of the state, there’s laws about that,”
said Arizona geohydrologist Marvin Glotfelty, a well-drilling expert. “But you can take ‘virtual’ water and export it; alfalfa, cotton, electricity or anything created in part from the use of water.” Residents and local officials say lax groundwater laws give agriculture the upper hand, allowing farms to pump unlimited water as long as they own or lease the property to drill wells into. In around 80% of the state, Arizona has no laws overseeing how much water corporate megafarms are using, nor is there any way for the state to track it. But rural communities in La Paz County know the water is disappearing beneath their feet. Shallow, residential wells in the county started drying up in 2015, local officials say, and deeper municipal well levels have steadily declined. [Source]
Some Colorado Cities to Begin Testing of Reuse Water for Drinking
Last week, Colorado’s water quality agency gave unanimous preliminary approval to regulate direct potable reuse — the process of treating sewage and sending it directly to taps without first being dispersed in a larger water body. Pending a final vote in November, the state would become the first to adopt direct potable reuse regulations, according to state and federal officials. “Having well-developed regulations ... helps ensure projects are safe and that project proponents know what will be required of them,” said Laura Belanger, water resources engineer with the non-profit Western Resource Advocates. As the state’s population explodes and regional water supplies dwindle, recycling water for drinking is a significant opportunity for stretching a limited supply, said Kevin Reidy, conservation specialist for the Colorado Water Conservation Board. “I think it’s an important tool for the long term because it gives water providers options to respond to the future scarcity of water supplies, whether drought-driven or other reasons,” said Mark Marlowe, director of Castle Rock Water. [Source]
EPA Enforcement Part of Agency Strategy to Characterize and Address PFAS Releases from Major Manufacturers
The 3M Company has agreed to a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) order to sample and provide treatment to address contamination from per- and poly fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) found in drinking water in the vicinity of 3M’s Cordova, IL facility. Recent sampling results provided by 3M indicate the widespread presence of a mixture of at least 19 different PFAS chemicals in drinking water within a 3-mile radius of the Cordova facility. Given the unique circumstances affecting this community, including more than five decades of PFAS discharges and the many types of PFAS chemicals found, EPA has concluded that the situation constitutes an imminent and substantial endangerment under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. “I have directed EPA staff to use every enforcement tool at our disposal to require manufacturers of PFAS to address potential endangerment to the public and to compel them to characterize, control, and clean up ongoing and past PFAS contamination,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “Communities have suffered far too long from exposure to these chemicals. This settlement is a critical step forward in our work to protect communities from pollution and hold polluters accountable for their actions.” As part of this settlement, 3M is required to offer treatment to all private well owners within three miles of the facility and to the Comanche Water Supply in Iowa, in an effort to remove PFAS from the drinking water. 3M is also required to offer drinking water sampling out to four miles from the facility for private well owners and out to 10 miles from the facility for public water systems as well as to the Quad Cities’ public water systems, using EPA protocols and conducted under EPA oversight. 3M was one of the original companies developing and producing PFAS within the United States, and their Cordova facility operations and discharges containing PFAS chemicals date back to the 1970s. [Source]
Parched: Cheyenne Bottoms is 100 Percent Dry!
The ongoing drought in Kansas isn’t only parching crops and drinking water supplies. It’s also hurting wildlife as the Kansas wetlands that normally act as vital pit stops for migrating birds dry up. “We are 100% dry. There’s no water on the property,” Cheyenne Bottoms’ wildlife area manager Jason Wagner said. “Our bird numbers are nothing,” Wagner said. “Most of them aren’t even stopping because there’s nothing for them to stop for.” That means the birds — some of which travel thousands of miles along the Central Flyway from as far north as the Arctic Circle down to South America — have to keep flying farther in search of a place to rest. What makes this year’s drought especially bad for birds migrating across Kansas? Central Kansas has always experienced cycles of drought. Cheyenne Bottoms has been known to dry up periodically, most recently in 2013. But that year, late summer rains refilled it before the fall migration season. To see the wetlands this dry this late into the year, Wagner at Cheyenne Bottoms said, is very rare. It’s been one of the driest years on record for this part of Kansas. The counties where creeks feed into these wetlands — Rush, Ness and Stafford — are all more than one foot below their historical precipitation averages for the year to date. That means they’d need a foot of rain just to get back to normal. As with everything else related to the drought, the big unknown is how much longer it will last. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association predicts a rare triple dip La Niña weather pattern for this winter, which means below-average precipitation in western and central Kansas is likely to continue for at least a few more months. But there’s at least one silver lining. Wagner spent the morning in a tractor digging up invasive cattail plants in areas that would normally be inaccessible because they’re covered with water. So when the wetland habitat fills up again, he said, it’ll be better than ever. “One of these days, it's gonna start raining,” Wagner said. “And we'll fill back up.”[Source]
"We Can't Hear The Pump Running!"
KRWA Circuit Rider Javon Baker recently assisted operators at Rock Springs Ranch to repair a high-service pump. Rock Springs Ranch is located in the scenic hills south of Junction City. The Ranch is owned by the non-profit Kansas 4-H Foundation and for more than 75 years has served as a conference and retreat center. Generations of Kansas 4-H youth have visited the property for overnight and summer camp. The Ranch operates its own public water supply, drawing source water from a large spring. Water Operator Ryan Hartley contacted KRWA to assist with rebuilding the Ranch's high-service pump. The pump was leaking and making quite a racket. Hartley consulted with KRWA techs and was able to locate a rebuild kit for the old pump. KRWA Circuit Rider Javon Baker assisted with the pump rebuild, saving the Ranch the expense of a pump technician service call. A previous contractor's method of repairing the pump was to apply copious amounts of "gasket in a tube". After reassembling the pump and realigning the motor, the power was turned on. The pump was much quieter and was able to maintain a system pressure increase of five (5) psi. Hartley mentioned the only downside to the rebuild is "now I can't hear the pump running when I walk by the door!" KRWA has three Circuit Riders who are largely funded through a contract administered by the National Rural Water Association with funding originating from USDA Rural Development. This is just an example of the work for water and wastewater systems. In the week Nov. 6 - 12, KRWA worked with 84 systems. There were Alma, Americus, Atchison Cons. RWD 5, Atchison RWD 1, Augusta, Belle Plaine, Bronson, Brown RWD 2, Burlingame, Caney, Chanute, Cilfton, Clyde, Courtland, Doniphan RWD 3, Douglas RWD 1, Douglas RWD 4, Edna, Everest, Franklin RWD 6, Fredonia, Galena, Galva, Gaylord, Grainfield, Grandview Plaza, Greenleaf, Hanover, Harvey RWD 1, Hazelton, Herington, Highland, Home Sewer District No. 1, Hope, Horton, Humboldt, Inman, Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska, Kickapoo Tribe, Lane, Leavenworth Cons. RWD 1, Leavenworth RWD 5, Lebanon, Lucas, Lyons, Maize, Maple Hill, Marion RWD 4, Marquette, Milford, Minneapolis, Morning Star Ranch, Ness City, Norton, Nortonville, Osage RWD 7, Osawatomie, Osborne, Osborne RWD 2, Ottawa RWD 2, Overbrook, Pleasanton, Powhattan, Pretty Prairie, Richmond, Riley, Rock Springs Ranch, Rush RWD 1, Russell 3, Sabetha, Scranton, Silver Lake, Sterling, Valley Falls, Wabaunsee RWD 2, Washington, West Mineral, Wetmore, Wilson, Winona and Yates Center.
Farmland Prices Hit Record Highs, Pricing Out Farmers
A series of economic forces — high prices for commodity crops like corn, soybeans and wheat; a robust housing market; low interest rates until recently; and an abundance of government subsidies — have converged to create a “perfect storm” for farmland values, said Jason Henderson, a dean at the College of Agriculture at Purdue University and a former official at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. [Source]
New Job Postings on KRWA Website
The Kansas Rural Water Association's "Job Postings" web page includes openings that have recently been submitted by:
KRWA provides "job postings at no charge. Job openings to be posted should be e-mailed in a Word or text document to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- City of Atchison (Assistant Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator)
- City of Fulton: Water System Operator
- City of Valley Center: Water/Wastewater Operator Positions
- City of Wichita: Maintenance Worker - Water Distribution
- City of Wichita: Water Distribution Laborer
- (see Four Additional Listings for City of Wichita)
- Jefferson RWD No. 13: Office Operations Manager
- Franklin County RWD 6: General Manager/Operator
- Leavenworth County RWD 7: General Manager/Operator
- City of Sedgwick: Maintenance Worker
- City of Sedgwick: Utility Maintenance Worker II
Upcoming Water & Wastewater Training Sponsored by KRWA
Much of the High Plains remained dry this week with only
portions of southeast Nebraska and eastern Kansas recording above-normal precipitation.
Temperatures were mostly above normal for the area, but western portions were normal to slightly below this week, with the
warmest temperatures over eastern Kansas where departures were 6-9 degrees above normal. With the continued dryness,
most of the changes were worsening drought intensities. As the autumn remained dry over much of Nebraska, expansions were
made to extreme and exceptional drought in the northeast and western parts of the state. Western Kansas, eastern Colorado
and eastern Wyoming also had expansions of severe, extreme and exceptional drought conditions. Much of eastern and central
Kansas saw improvement from several inches of rain, which lead to the reduction of all drought intensities (including the
extreme and exceptional areas in the southern portion of the state) and the removal of extreme drought in the northeast.