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Great Bend LWV co-sponsoring water plan talk Monday
Kansas Water map
The Kansas map above shows the areas making up the High Plains Aquifer in the state. At left is the Ogallala, the largest portion; in the center is the Great Bend Prairie, extending into Barton County; and at right is the Equus Beds in south-central Kansas.

In water management for the state of Kansas, there are a lot of working parts. Even though they are bound together in principle, the parts don’t all have the same functions, wants or needs.

Trying to get it all wrapped together can get more than a little murky, and explaining it is one thing; understanding it is another. The current Kansas Water Plan, discussed by the Kansas Water Authority in August 2022, is one of the primary tools used by the state to address current water resource issues and plan for future needs.

While it covers five guiding principles, it’s a 261-page document. That’s a lot to absorb.

The Great Bend Senior Center, 2005 Kansas Ave., is co-hosting a program with the local League of Women Voters on Monday, April 10, at 12:30 p.m. to help the public understand what the Kansas Water Plan (KWP) means for Barton county. 

Barton County Conservation District Manager and League member Veronica Coons will be giving an overview of the KWP and the portions of the plan that address resource concerns in the Great Bend Prairie Aquifer Planning area. The public is encouraged to call the GB Senior Center for noon lunch reservations at 620-792-3906. Handouts from the KWP will be available that speak to the Great Bend Prairie Regional Advisory Committee.

Coons will give an overview of the five guiding principles: to conserve and extend the High Plains Aquifer; secure, protect and restore the 14 reservoirs in Kansas; improve the state’s water quality; reduce vulnerability to extreme events such as droughts and floods; and increase awareness of Kansas water resources.

Coons explained that each of the state’s Regional Advisory Committees submitted an action plan for inclusion in the KWP.

“I serve on the Great Bend Prairie RAC, and will be going over the parts of that action plan that pertain to Barton County,” she said. 

“They include achieving water use sustainability within the GBPRAC, enhance monitoring of poor quality water to stop and minimize further contamination of fresh water sources; initiate research and development of alternative feed sources and less water-intensive crops; and working towards sustainability of watersheds so that we maintain our flood control capacity while also making sure we meet streamflow to meet downstream water needs,” Coons noted.

Awareness and education are a big part of Coons’ function within the Conservation District, she said. “My goal is to give listeners an idea of what is included in the water plan and what efforts are being made locally to meet the goals of the plan.  

“While Barton County is not in the thick of some of the more extreme drought and flooding events, it is important for us to realize that the part we play in the overall carrying out of the objectives of the plan makes a difference.”