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Moran speaks to area farmers
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Why he supported the recently passed massive farm bill and the importance of water to the region were the key points of remarks made by U.S. Senator Jerry Moran when he addressed the annual Water PACK meeting in Great Bend Saturday night.
The audience of about 150-200 farmers and ranchers who utilize irrigation gathered at the Great Bend Convention Center. They were eager to hear what the veteran Kansas Republican had to say.
“I want to thank you all for being here tonight and for your commitment to conserving our natural resources for the next generation of Kansans,” Moran said. Those present raised crops such as corn, soybeans, alfalfa and wheat, and many were involved in the cattle business as well.
“I often tell folks in Washington that we live a special way of life in Kansas that is worth preserving for future generations,” Moran said. “And critical to that way of life are our state’s plentiful natural resources – especially water.”
He called water the lifeblood of our municipalities, the foundation for statewide recreation, and the factor that will direct the future of manufacturing and production agriculture. “Water conservation and natural resource management is vitally important to our economy and quality of life.”
The bulk of the crowd came from the six surrounding counties: Barton, Pawnee, Edwards, Kiowa, Stafford and Pratt. Their source of irrigation water is from the Great Plains Prairie Aquifer, not the Ogallala Aquifer, which is close but further west.  
Formed in 1990, Water PACK is an organization of about 400 agricultural producers and businesses covering more than 550,000 acres of irrigated crop production. Water PACK’s goal is to educate its members and the general public about the management of sustainable irrigated agriculture and its long-term benefits.
Moran has represented Barton County in Washington, D.C., for 18 years, first as a First District congressman and now as a senator. e was born in Great Bend and still  has family in Plainville. He travels back and forth to Washington each week.
As for Water PAK, Richard Wenstrom of Edwards County serves as the board president.
The group is currently working to:
• Solve the conflict with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (within U.S. Department of Interior) in a way that protects their members and yet enhances the water supply to Quivira.
• Declining water tables in some areas of their aquifer
• Problem solving in the Middle Arkansas River Basin
• Monitor water related issues in all water basins in the region

As a side note, the late Glenn Mull was a member of Water PACK and one of their earlier supporters who “always provided wise and frequent input on local water issues.” A Pawnee Rock farmer and business owner, Mull, his wife  Elaine, their daughter, Amy Harter, and granddaughter Samantha Harter died in a Tennessee plane crash Feb. 3.