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Thursday, September 28, 2023
"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.

KRWA E-News, September 11, 2023

09/11/2023 - Weekly KRWA E-News

The Looming Water Crisis: Kansas on the Brink of an Unprecedented Disaster
The New York Times recently published an alarming analysis of the nationwide groundwater crisis, and the findings are nothing short of catastrophic for Kansas. The state, known as America's breadbasket, is on the verge of an unprecedented disaster that could cripple its economy, devastate its agriculture, and leave its citizens parched. Kansas relies heavily on its aquifers, underground layers of water-bearing rock, for agriculture and drinking water. The Times' investigation reveals that these life-giving aquifers are being depleted at an alarming rate. The Ogallala Aquifer lies beneath 2.6 million acres of Kansas land; it can no longer support industrial-scale agriculture. Corn yields have reduced, and if this decline continues, America's status as a food superpower could be at risk. The Kansas Geological Survey has produced what it calls a "lifetime map" for the Ogallala Aquifer within state borders. The map shows that large areas already lack enough water for commercial agricultural irrigation. Within 50 years, almost half of the aquifer in that area is expected to decline to what the survey calls the "minimum threshold." The depletion of groundwater is not just an agricultural issue; it's a human one. Communities are already paying the price. Over-pumping is threatening drinking water wells, and the state has no mechanism in place to stop its groundwater decline. "Tomorrow is here today for them, in terms of reduced yields," said Brownie Wilson, Water Data Manager with the Kansas Geological Survey. Experts warn that the loss of water will outpace the gain of technology. "Eventually, we're going to lose," said Bill Golden, a professor of agricultural economics at Kansas State University. The state is staring down the barrel of an environmental, economic, and human catastrophe. The clock is ticking, and time is running out. The groundwater crisis is a ticking time bomb, and Kansas is at ground zero. Immediate action is needed to avert a disaster that could have far-reaching implications for Kansas and the entire nation. The time for denial and delay is over; the time for action is now. READ MORE  Note: The ENews that was sent via email on 9/11 incorrectly attributed the iticalized text above as a direct quote by Mr. Golden. It is not.


KRWA Hosting LCRR Webinar on September 20
One of KRWA's main missions is educating water and wastewater utility staff, including operators, administrative staff and elected officials. Due to popular demand, KRWA has scheduled a hybrid training session on the Lead and Copper Rule Revisions (LCRR) on September 20. The webinar will begin at 12:30 pm and feature presentations on LCRR and the Lead Service Line Inventory (LSLI), which every public water supplier must submit to KDHE by October 16, 2024. If you are not aware of the changes coming for your water system, this is a great opportunity to see what the new rule requires. This webinar will be a live broadcast of the in-person training session taking place in Abilene. No continuing education hours are available for this webinar because of being only 2.5 hours in length; the session will end by 3:30 pm. To register, go to the KRWA Training Calendar at: www.krwa.net/training. Click on "more details" for registration instructions. 


More than 2,000 Risk Having Water Shut Off by the City of Wichita
The time to act is now, or you could get your water shut off. With more than 2,200 water customers in the City of Wichita not in compliance, the city is ready to start turning off customers next week. Megan Lovey with the City says they started sending out notices after the first of the year that a deadline was approaching to get water backflow valves checked by an approved contractor. “Some more drastic action and that is really just to protect our water supply,” said Lovely. “For about 2,200 customers in Wichita who have city water sprinklers who are not in compliance, and they just have to call a certified company and have those appointments scheduled.” Lovely says the backflow valve issue is for customers with a sprinkler system attached to city water. If the backflow malfunctions and is not working, then contaminated water could flow back into the clean water supply. While the city has continued to send out letters to customers who have not had their backflow valves checked by an approved contractor, action could be taken starting Tuesday, Sept. 12. Contractors who do the work say it could cost you about $50-100 to have the backflow checked by a professional, depending on who you hire. “You don’t want to have your water shut off,” says Chris Miller, owner of Amazing Green Landscape. “I can tell you the City of Wichita does work with people, and they send out multiple, you know, reminders.”  SOURCE 


Kansas Embarking on Five-Year, $451 Million Project to Spread High-Speed Internet Statewide
Jade Piros de Carvalho sits in the control center of an ambitious $451 million, five-year initiative to deliver high-speed connectivity to tens of thousands of Kansans left behind by an internet revolution intersecting commerce, education, health care and entertainment. Piros de Carvalho, director of the Kansas Office of Broadband Development, was appointed in 2022 after working for internet service provider IdeaTek and serving on the Hutchinson City Council, including three terms as mayor. Her job with the state is to facilitate growth in affordable, reliable internet for homes and businesses. The passage of federal legislation prompted the National Telecommunication Information and Administration to earmark $451 million to Kansas for the purpose of narrowing the digital divide. The underlying goal of the federal initiative authorized by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act was to speed the delivery of quality internet service by funding partnerships with states, local governments and businesses. The Kansas congressional delegation’s votes on the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act were split along party lines with five Republicans opposed and the lone Democrat in favor of the bill. Piros de Carvalho said about 150,000 Kansans lacked subscriptions to high-speed internet. The service gap was largely attributable to a lack of infrastructure with 87,000 locations unserved and 57,000 underserved by broadband across the 105 counties, four sovereign tribal nations and 1,900 cities, towns and villages in Kansas. Half the population in eight counties was found to be unserved or underserved, while 37 counties had at least one-fourth of residents in those service categories. “Every state and territory is getting these funds,” Piros de Carvalho said. “So that’s definitely putting those sorts of constraints and pressures. But that’s one reason why Kansas is trying to move very quickly because we don’t want to be in a position where we’re last in line in the nation competing for those resources.” SOURCE 


Kansas Property Tax Increases Have Homeowners Objecting and Legislators Looking at New Laws
Despite record-breaking temperatures, an overflow crowd of frustrated taxpayers recently crammed into the Shawnee County Commission chambers to voice concerns about rising property taxes driven mainly by growing home values. The majority of people spoke against the $140.7 million budget, a 10.4% increase over the 2023 budget. For three hours, people voiced frustration with the steep increase in their property’s valuation and the subsequent growth in their property tax bill. Shawnee County resident Rocky Bartlow acknowledged the appraisal process was likely correct but said people not planning to sell their homes are burdened with higher tax bills because values are skyrocketing. “The problem is the only way for me to receive any benefit from that is to sell the house, and I don’t want to sell the house,” Bartlow said. “I plan on being carried out in a body bag.” It’s a scene playing out across the state as local governments hold public hearings on their budgets required by state law. Local budgets continue to rise, and some taxpayers are frustrated as their property taxes increase and feel their voices aren’t being heard. The interest shows that legislative action in recent years didn’t resolve concerns over rising property taxes. Lawmakers, local officials, and taxpayers are gearing up for action in the next legislative session. But local government officials are pushing back against the concerns, saying the budget growth is needed to provide the same services. Kansas lawmakers began to take notice. In 2021, the Kansas Legislature passed Senate Bill 13 with the goal of slowing down property tax hikes. The legislation, also known by supporters as the Truth in Taxation law, mandates local taxing authorities hold public hearings, like the Shawnee County public meeting when they intend to exceed the revenue-neutral rate. Lawmakers could take further action to simplify the property tax process or reinstate a cap on tax increases. SB 13, the bill that created the new tax hearings, also repealed a previous property tax cap. During the 2023 legislative session, the Senate passed an amendment to the Kansas Constitution to cap valuation growth at four percent in any year. The House will consider the amendment when the session resumes in January. SOURCE


Registration is Now Open for the 2023 Governor's Conference on the Future of Water in Kansas
The 2023 Governor's Conference on the Future of Water in Kansas is scheduled for November 15 - 16 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Manhattan. This is the 12th year for this exciting conference, highlighting the latest policy and research developments on water issues in Kansas and the updated Kansas Water Plan. It will attract hundreds of attendees, including state and Congressional legislators, state and federal officials, organizations, and citizens who share an avid interest in our state’s water resources. For information and registration, visit https://kwo.ks.gov/news-events/governor's-water-conference.


KDHE Acknowledges Challenges in Operator Certification Program
A memo by KDHE this past week acknowledges that KDHE has problems with the new operator certification tracking system.  Not all operators received the memo from KDHE. The memo by Cathy Tucker-Vogel of KDHE includes this statement: “Concerning Renewals: Operators that have completed the required continuing education hours and submitted the renewal fees will receive a renewal certificate.  If your current certificate has expired and you have submitted payment, KDHE will renew with no penalty, and you will remain in good standing.  We will be sending out certificates beginning with the oldest first and moving forward until we are caught up.” The oldest of these are from March 2023.  Operators who have attended KRWA-sponsored training sessions have been provided a “certificate of attendance” with the notice that the credit hours have been provided to KDHE. Apparently, while KDHE is working on a new tracker system, the old system was not being operated in parallel. Questions about operator certification should be directed to KDHE by calling 785.296.5511 or email to kdhe.operatorcertification@kdheks.gov. Also, KDHE has commented this morning that the Cert-Tracker is not yet available for public access.


Questions and Answers . . .
Question: Our water system received a solicitation about a PFAS settlement for water systems. The email instructs us to go to www.PFASWaterSettlement.com and sign up. Is this legitimate?

Answer: Yes, there have been recent settlements negotiated for PFAS contamination. The National Rural Water Association has worked closely with the law firm of Napoli Shkolnik to ensure rural utilities are represented in the settlement process. But, in order to be eligible for a settlement, a utility must complete and file a claim form. Claim forms can be completed whether or not a utility has tested for PFAS, regardless of contaminate levels. PFAS regulations are coming from EPA, KRWA encourages all utilities to look into the NRWA PFAS Cost Recovery Program at  https://nrwa.org/issues/pfas/.


KRWA Training Sessions Continue to be Filled! See these sessions on the KRWA Training Calendar at this LINK.

    ... Always check www.krwa.net/training to register for sessions that will be conducted by KRWA.

  • September 12 -13: Programmable Logic Controllers; Troubleshooting and Diagnostics at Garden City (FILLED)
  • September 13: Competent Person for Trenching and Excavation at Kingman (can accept 2 more only)
  • September 14: Confined Space Training at Kingman (can accept 2 more only)
  • September 19: Stenner Pumps, Corrosion Control and the Lead/Copper Revisions at Russell
  • September 20: Stenner Pumps, Corrosion Control and the Lead/Copper Revisions at Abilene
  • September 20: A 2.5 hour online webinar of the Lead/Copper Rule Revision
  • September 20-21: Understanding and Troubleshooting Electrical Motors and Variable Speed Drivers at Great Bend
  • September 21: Stenner Pumps, Corrosion Control and the Lead/Copper Revisions at Oxford
  • September 26–28: Cross-Connection Control and Backflow Prevention Tester/Repairman’s Course at Liberal
  • October 3-4: Programmable Logic Controllers; Troubleshooting and Diagnostics at Ottawa
  • October 11: Competent Person for Trenching and Excavation (Arkansas City)     
  • October 12: Confined Space Training (Arkansas City)
  • October 12: Reverse Osmosis (RO) Treatment System Basics (Douglas RWD 3 - Tri-District)
  • October 17: Reverse Osmosis (RO) Treatment System Basics (Arkansas City Water Plant)
  • October 17-18: Using Schematics to Troubleshoot Electrical Circuits (Wellington)
  • October 19: Reverse Osmosis (RO) Treat System Basics (Hutchinson)
  • December 5 - 7: Cross-Connection Control, Backflow Prevention Tester Repairman's Course at Lawrence
  •  ... and more ...
  • Note: Additional sessions are in development. ALWAYS check KRWA's website for updates as far as any training that KRWA is involved with.  


New Job Postings . . .

The Kansas Rural Water Association's "Job Postings" web page includes openings that have recently been submitted by: 

  • Butler RWD No. 6 (Water Operator)
  • City of Ellsworth (Water/Sewer Superintendent)
  • City of Spring Hill (Wastewater Operator I/II/III
  • City of Derby (Utilities Operator 1)
  • City of Wichita (Sustainability Coordinator)
  • City of Frankfort (Maintenance Person)
  • City of Paola (Maintenance Worker I)
  • City of Lenora (City Superintendent)
  • City of Beloit (Water Plant Operator I)
  • City of Neodesha (City Administrator)
  • City of Washington (Water, Wastewater Street Laborer; Power Plant Operator/Superintendent)
  • City of Winchester (Water and Sewer Superintendent)
  • City of Cheney (Maintenance Employee for Water, WW, Natural Gas, Street and Parks)
  • City of Kechi (Maintenance / Utility Operator)
  • City of Valley Center (Utilities Manager)
  • --- And many additional openings

KRWA provides job postings at no charge. Job openings to be posted should be e-mailed in a Word or text document to krwa@krwa.net.


What did KRWA do this past week?
     KRWA provided assistance to these 65 water and wastewater systems during the week of Sept. 5: Atchison Cons. RWD 5, City of Allen, City of Americus, City of Arlington, City of Caney, City of Clifton, City of Colwich, City of Corning, City of Cottonwood Falls, City of Delphos, City of Ellsworth, City of Eudora, City of Fowler, City of Galva, City of Gardner, City of Gas, City of Geneseo, City of Glasco, City of Horton, City of Inman, City of Kinsley, City of Maize, City of Marquette, City of McFarland, City of Melvern, City of Milford, City of Ness City, City of Nortonville, City of Offerle, City of Osage City, City of Osborne, City of Overbrook, City of Paola, City of Peabody, City of Pratt, City of Quenemo, City of Ransom, City of Rozel, City of Scranton, City of Seneca, City of Smith Center, City of Sterling, City of Strong City, City of Troy, City of Valley Falls, City of Wamego, City of Washington, City of Burdett, Butler RWD 3, Jefferson Co. Sewer Districts No. 7 and 8, Lake Wabaunsee Imp. District, Miami Co. SD Walnut Creek, Montgomery RWD 9, Morris RWD 1, Nemaha RWD 3, Public Wholesale District 12, Public Wholesale District No.  4, Public Wholesale District No. 23, Rice RWD 1, Rolling Hills Landowners Association, Saline RWD 8, Sedgwick RWD 4, Shawnee Hills MHP, Shawnee Cons. RWD 3 and Wilson RWD 11.