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KRWA E-News, November 13, 2023

11/13/2023 - State Government

Kansas Forms Subcabinet to Tackle State-Wide Water Issues
Governor Laura Kelly announced the formation of the Kansas Water Subcabinet to formalize cross-agency coordination, collaboration, and planning on the state’s water quantity and quality priorities. Creating the subcabinet provides an efficient and practical internal forum for experts across several agencies to discuss water-related data and policy and strengthen state government initiatives on emerging and long-term water issues. “My administration has been laser-focused on finding and implementing sustainable solutions to address our state’s water concerns,” Governor Laura Kelly said. “This subcabinet ensures we are all pulling in the same direction in those efforts and building an all-of-government approach to water issues.” The Kansas Water Subcabinet will be managed by the Governor’s Special Advisor on Water, and its permanent members will include representatives from the Kansas Water Office, the Kansas Department of Agriculture, the Kansas Department of Commerce, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, and the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks. “Our state’s agricultural and rural economy is fueled by water, which is why our stakeholders often point to long-term water management as one of the state’s most critical challenges,” Kansas Agriculture Secretary Mike Beam said. “I’m looking forward to enhancing the collaboration among state officials with an active Water Subcabinet.” The group’s tasks could include developing cross-agency goals and strategies on Kansas’ long-term water quantity and quality issues, strengthening service delivery of the state’s water grants and programs, and responding to upcoming and short-term water-related issues while strategizing preventative measures. The subcabinet will also prioritize securing federal or private funding opportunities across agencies to leverage the state’s historic recent investments in the Kansas Water Plan. “Our state’s water challenges are daunting and complex, making it essential that we marshal the expertise and advice of all our water agencies,” Connie Owen, Director of the Kansas Water Office, said. “The Water Subcabinet can provide the critical experience, knowledge, data, and context necessary to help the state ensure a safe and secure water supply for Kansans.” The subcabinet will meet regularly and will provide monthly updates to the governor. READ MORE
How Much Money and Time Will it Take to Solve Kansas water issues? Special Advisor Weighs In
On the November 5, 2023 episode of Inside Kansas Politics, KSNT's Rebekah Chungs sat down with Vijay Ramasamy, Kansas Special Advisor for Water, to learn about his new role and how Ramasamy plans to tackle the states ongoing water crises. "I think the central goal of the position here is to partner with our incredible state agencies, our legislature, the Water Authority and our local communities to really get at the governor’s vision here, which is to ensure safe and sustainable access to water for generations to come," said Ramasamy, "We have incredible amount of momentum on these challenges but with the amount of federal funding that’s coming in related to water, with the commitment from the governor and the legislature on funding our state water plan along with the incredible amount of innovative solutions we see at the local level regarding water, we have better momentum than we’ve ever had to be able to solve this problem!" Ramasamy also mentioned the $85 Million in the recently announced Technical Assistance and Water Projects Fund Grants available from the Kansas Water Office. "I’m really excited about the progress that we've made so far and what we can do moving forward with a governor now really understands and is committed to this issue and has shown that commitment to this issue you have the legislature that's shown that commitment to this issue" Ramasamy said, "but, it's going to take time. It’s going to take effort.  It’s going to take funding but you know this is critical to our future if we want our kids and our grandkids to continue to farm the land, if we want our rural communities to thrive, if we want to continue to grow economically as a state we must address these water concerns and I think we’re ready to do so."  READ MORE
KRWA Elects Tom Sloan as Director
Tom Sloan has been elected by the Board of Directors of the Kansas Rural Water Association to fill the unexpired term of Paul Froelich who resigned recently. Froelich, who served on the board since 2016, says his schedule as an assistant funeral director does not allow him to participate at KRWA meetings and functions.  Sloan has been chairman of Douglas County Rural Water District No. 1 since 1983. He served twelve terms (24 years) as a member of the Kansas House of Representatives. As a state legislator, he provided legislative leadership on behalf of rural utilities, notably state laws that impacted rural water districts. Sloan was a key member in the effort to gain sales tax exemptions on water system purchases with the establishment of the Clean Drinking Water Fee.  He worked with KRWA and other organizations to support numerous other legislative proposals that address utility concerns.  He holds a bachelor degree from Syracuse University, a master degree from Michigan State University and Ph.D. in political science from the Univ. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has professional employment at Kansas State University, Kansas Nurses Association, Getty Refining, the Kansas Senate, where he was Chief of Staff to the Senate Majority Leader and President, Kansas Dept. of Corrections, Western Resources, and Sloan & Associates Strategic Planning. He has professional experience with service to numerous state and federal commissions including being a member of the US EPA Local Government Advisory Committee and Kansas Information Network. Sloan was the recipient of the Conger Award from KRWA in 2019.
Kansas Abandoned Wells Project Reinvigorated, but Thousands Left to Plug
The state’s efforts to plug abandoned wells are back on track after delays in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to project coordinators. Ryan Hoffman, conservation division director with the Kansas Corporation Commission, updated lawmakers on the well situation during a Tuesday legislative meeting. The Kansas Corporation Commission oversees the well plugging process. Wells left unplugged can pose a health and safety risk to Kansans if they are near communities. Due to leakage, abandoned wells could leak into the water supply and or release methane into the air. Kansas began the process of sealing wells in the 1990s, using fees from  the oil and gas industry. But the program received a significant boost from federal funding in 2022, following the passage of a bipartisan infrastructure law. As part of the law, the White House allocated $25 million in federal funding for well plugging in the state, after analysis found Kansas has some of the largest numbers of abandoned gas wells in the United States, partly due to the state’s early boom in natural gas production. Hoffman said the state’s plugging program has capped 1,740 wells to date, costing about $18 million total. By the end of the project, which will be completed in early 2024, an estimated 2,500 wells will be plugged. About $6.2 million is currently left in the State Plugging Program fund. In fiscal year 2023, the state’s well plugging program capped 93 abandoned wells, following an influx of federal funding. Those wells came with an average cost of $6,359.64. In fiscal year 2022, 281 wells were plugged at an average cost of $7,049.20. The year prior saw 342 wells plugged, at an average cost of $6,742.46. Hoffman said 23 contracts have been secured in the past few months, after the program revamped its contractor recruitment process. He estimated the state has close to 9,000 abandoned wells left to plug. READ MORE
Fraudulent Claims Threaten to Disrupt Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Payouts
As federal officials try to compensate the victims of one of the most high-profile drinking water contamination incidents in recent history, a surge of imposters could seriously impair the efforts. “The government's plan to pay billions of dollars to victims of toxic water at Camp Lejeune has unleashed a wave of fraudulent claims that threatens to disrupt or taint what could be one of the largest-ever mass tort cases,” Bloomberg reported. “Veterans advocates and lawyers also say the fake claims — and the time and effort to identify and weed them out — could dilute the empathy for legitimately ill victims and slow the process of compensating them.” Service members and their families living near Camp Lejeune consumed dangerously contaminated water for years, and a recent Congressional bill to compensate those victims has initiated a payout process that could reach $21 billion. And, sadly, this has been one of the primary factors attracting the fraudulent claims. “A surge in available litigation funding means extra resources for law firms to find and register as many potential plaintiffs as they can before the window to file claims ends next August,” according to Bloomberg. “And social media and technology have made it easier than ever for legal advertising and lead-generating firms to find those people and sell their names to lawyers.” Reports of a call center that coaches fake claimants on the proper dates and cancer types to cite have emerged and the surviving family members of legitimate victims have been contacted by imposters pretending to be their lawyers, per Bloomberg. This wave of fraudulent claims is only one of the setbacks government officials are facing as they attempt to compensate victims. As they work to settle almost 100,000 initial claims, many other victims are looking to litigate the monumental contamination issue in court. “I’m committed to vigorously advocating for trials to begin in 2024,” one lawyer representing Camp Lejeune plaintiffs told Roll Call. “The veterans, their families and others that have suffered from the water at Camp Lejeune and, after decades of waiting, they deserve to have their day in court.” As more challenges emerge in the aftermath of this historic contamination, the fight for compensation should stand as a reminder to those responsible for protecting consumers.  READ MORE
KRWA is Invites Applications for the Dennis Schwartz Scholarship
The Kansas Rural Water Association has established a college scholarship designated as the Dennis Schwartz Scholarship in honor of Dennis Schwartz, who served on the Association Board of Directors from 1977 to 2014 and who served on a host of state and national committees, including the National Rural Water Association, National Drinking Water Advisory Committee, and the Kansas Water Authority. The Scholarship will be awarded to a graduating high school senior in the amount of $1,000, beginning with the 2024-2025 school term. Applicants are limited to be children, stepchildren or under guardianship of full-time employees of either an Active Member System of the Kansas Rural Water Association or employees of the Association. The scholarship is  Applicants must include a copy of his/her transcript for the seven semesters of high school with the application. Applicants must complete the application form in its entirety by completing all blanks and signing the application. The applicant must include one letter of reference by a teacher or school counselor. The recipient of the Dennis Schwartz Scholarship award will be announced at the 2024 KRWA Annual Conference & Exhibition on March 27, 2024. You can find more information and the Scholarship Application at https://krwa.net/ONLINE-RESOURCES/Scholarship-Opportunity.
Questions and Answers:
Question:  Recently a public water supply (PWS) official contacted KRWA about operator certification exams administered by KDHE.  This water supply had several operators who are not certified as these operators had failed the certification exams on several occasions. The operators have been paid for their time during their official duties to additionally study  and the operators have attended various training sessions but considerable studying has not resulted in passing the certification exams.  The official had a question about the failure rate of all operators taking the exams.
Answer: KRWA is not aware of the failure rates on the exams on individual testing locations or by date or yearly totals.  KRWA advised that the official contact KDHE Bureau of Water (BOW) concerning the number of individuals taking the exams and what the passing percentages are.  The BOW should have that information. The city has been considering terminating the operator(s) for failure to obtain certification. KRWA will also contact the BOW to attempt to obtain this information and provide it to requesting public water systems as others are also interested in the matter.
KRWA Training Sessions Continue to be Filled! See these sessions on the KRWA Training Calendar at this LINK
  • November 14-15 Using Schematics to Troubleshoot Electrical Circuits (Fort Scott) (Filled)
  • November 29: Electrical Safety: Understand and Implementing NFPA 70E For a safer Workplace (Salina) (Filled)
  • November 30 : Electrical Safety: Understand and Implementing NFPA 70E For a safer Workplace (Salina)  (Filled)
  • December 5 - 7: Cross-Connection and Backflow Prevention (select information only, recertification or full certification) (All Sessions Filled)
  • December 12: PFAS, Emerging Contaminants and Sampling Techniques for Water and Wastewater (just posted)
  • December 12: Funding Options and Management Issues for Cities and RWDs (Prairie Band Conference Center, Mayetta)
  • January 9: Surface Water Treatment: Production, Sampling & Techniques (Russell)
  • January 11: Surface Water Treatment: Production, Sampling & Techniques (Liberal)
  • February 6 - 8: Cross-Connection and Backflow Prevention (Lawrence)
KRWA to offer Software Training Sessions
KRWA, in collaboration with Butler County Community College (BCCC) and ProTrain, will offer  software training opportunities to municipal and rural water district administrative and office personnel. These sessions are provided at no charge in partnership and BCCC and a grant they are affiliated with. Register soon as space is limited for these sessions. Visit krwa.net/training for more information and to register (sessions will be posted on KRWA website later today).

December 5 - Microsoft Excel Refresher - Butler Co. Community College, 5000 Building, Andover
This one-day training course covering Microsoft Excel will highlight the components of Excel and some tricks and trades to formulas and hiding fields, etc. Registrants receive: one-day refresher, hard copy of course materials, online copy of course materials, and enrollment in a self-paced, online Microsoft Excel course and as a bonus Microsoft Word along with Human Skills bundle, with 1-year access to these courses.
December 13 - Intuit QuickBooks Online Plus - Butler Co. Community College, 5000 Building, Andover. This one-day training course covering Intuit QuickBooks Online Plus will highlight components of QuickBooks topics such as: General Ledger, Accounts Receivable and Payable, Invoicing, Payroll, Fixed Assets, and Budgeting, to name a few. Registrants will receive: one-day refresher, hard copy of course materials, online copy of course materials, enrollment in self-paced, online Intuit QuickBooks Plus course, with 1-year access to the course and 1-year access to QuickBooks.

Online, Self-Paced - Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Word, and Human Skills Bundle
Registrants will receive 1-year access to materials covering Microsoft Excel & Word, as well as Human Skills covering a variety of topics such as Administrative Skills, Career Development, Human Resources, Personal Development, Sales and Marketing, Supervisors and Managers and Workplace Essentials. Participants will be well-rounded in dealing with business, employee and customer relations. Registration will close on December 22.

Online, Self-Paced - Intuit QuickBooks Online Plus
Registrants will receive 1-year access to materials covering Intuit QuickBooks Online Plus as well as QuickBooks licensure for that same 1 year. Participants will learn the essentials of QuickBooks Online, a powerful cloud-based accounting program. Using a sample company, participants will experiment with the features of QuickBooks Online and a real world scenario to practice the various tasks available through QuickBooks. A mentor will be available once a month to help with specific questions. Registration will close on December 22.


Job Postings . . .

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


  • Kickapoo Tribe in Kansas (Water Treatment Plant Manager)
  • Butler RWD 4 (Assistant Operator)
  • North Kansas City, MO (Chief Water Plant Operator) 
  • City of Colwich (Two Maintenance Positions)
  • City of Valley Center (Utilities Manager) 
  • Butler RWD 3 (Water Operator) 
  • City of Hamilton (City Superintendent)
  • Soldier Township, Shawnee County (Township Administrator)
  • City of Marion (Water Plant Operator)
  • City of Downs (Water/Wastewater Operator) 
  • ASUS - Fort Riley Utility Services (5 Positions: Construction Worker; Maintenance Tech 1, Maintenance Tech III, Project Accounting Analyst and Construction Operators
  • Leavenworth RWD 7 (Operator/Manager)
  • City of Gardner (5 Positions: Building Maintenance Technician; Electric Generation Substation Manager; Staff Engineer/Sr. Staff Engineer; Maintenance Worker - Streets; Water Plant Operators)
  • Jackson RWD No. 3 (Water District Operators)
  • 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)
  • --- 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 help to the following 61 water and wastewater systems during the week of November 5 to 11: Butler RWD 7, Cherokee RWD 1, Cherokee RWD 2, Cherokee RWD 3, Cherokee RWD 8, City of Abbyville, City of Arlington, City of Beloit, City of Bennington, City of Bentley, City of Caney, City of Clay Center, City of Clifton, City of Elkhart, City of Eudora, City of Galva, City of Greenleaf, City of Hartford, City of Haven. City of Hiawatha, City of Hillsboro, City of Holcomb, City of Humboldt, City of Jewell, City of Kinsley, City of LaCrosse, City of LaCygne, City of Lewis, City of Maize, City of Marquette, City of Marysville, City of Nortonville, City of Nortonville, City of Onaga, City of Osawatomie, City of Quinter, City of Reserve, City of Rexford, City of Richmond, City of Soldier, City of Summerfield, City of Troy. City of Valley Falls,
City of Waverly, City of Weir, City of Willis, City of Wilson, City of Winona, Coffey RWD 2, Doniphan RWD 5, Douglas RWD 5, Ellis RWD #3 (Munjor), Harvey RWD 1, Lake Wabaunsee Improvement District, Lakewood Hills Improvement District, Mission Creek Camp, Osborne RWD 2, Public Wholesale District No. 12, Russell RWD 4, Suburban Water Company, and Washington RWD 2.




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Kansas Rural Water Association
P.O. Box 226
Seneca, Kansas 66538
(785) 336-3760