Water, a simple chemical compound, has the big and at times complex job of bringing life to the world. Last October, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback issued a call to action to address the need for a 50-year vision for the state’s water that meets the needs of all Kansans now and in the future.
“The governor understands that water and the economy of Kansas are directly linked,” said Lane Letourneau, Water Appropriations Program manager for the Kansas Department of Agriculture (KDA). “(The governor) has given KDA and the Kansas Water Office the directive to put together a 50-year vision for our water. He told us to focus on the reservoirs in the eastern part of the state and the Ogallala Aquifer in the western part of the state.”
Letourneau was a speaker at the recent Women Managing the Farm Conference, hosted in Manhattan and co-sponsored by K-State Research and Extension. He provided an update on the status of the 50-year water vision, water rights and the tools available to help with water conservation.
KDA and the Kansas Water Office have hosted 60 to 70 local meetings about water to-date and have met with more than 3,000 people, Letourneau said. The leaders working on the vision are asking local citizens from various parts of the state what they want their water resource to look like in 50 years.
“The best solutions come from the locals,” he said. “We’re getting a lot of positive feedback from the people we’re meeting with, those from the ethanol industry, cities and irrigators. Right now, we’re just at the stakeholder meeting part, but we have many more meetings to do. After that, we’ll put together a plan, and we’ll have more public meetings to deliver the message and get more input.”
Letourneau said the completed vision would take into account all uses for water in the state, including municipal, industrial, agricultural and domestic.
“If we don’t do anything and keep the status quo, the Ogallala will be 70 percent depleted in 50 years, and then the reservoirs will be filled with silt another 40 percent,” he said.
There is a Vision Plan meeting scheduled for March 10th at 10 a.m. in Hays. The meeting will be held at Sternburg museum at 3000 Sternberg Drive. The purpose of the meeting is to gain feedback from citizens throughout the state for the basis of the draft vision for the Future of water in Kansas.
I am planning on attending this meeting and if anyone would like to ride with me, please call 620-793-1910. I will plan on leaving at 8:30 a.m. and we will be back shortly after the conclusion of the meeting.
For more information about Kansas’ 50-year water vision, including a list of upcoming local meetings in which citizens can take part, log on to www.kwo.org. You can also contact your local Extension office if you have any questions.
Alicia Boor is the Agriculture and Natural Resources agent for Barton County K-State Research and Extension. You can contact her by e-mail at email@example.com or calling 620-793-1910