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Governors 50-year water plan must focus more on conserving aquifer, reducing waste on lawns
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 Dear editor

I read The Great Bend Tribune article: “Governor’s water conference focuses on water resource management” (Nov 10 issue, tribune). I read the article on the ideas that Governor Sam Brownback proposed from a podium recently in the venue of Manhattan, Kansas, again reminding Kansans that his so-called “50 Year Water Vision”, however, I saw nothing ‘new’ in Brownback’s remarks.He was essentially pounding the same old drum, to the effect of saying: “More needs to be done”. Indeed. 

 However, Mr. Brownback largely ignores how large the Ogallala Aquifer is (being underneath several U.S. States) yet so vulnerable to over-tapping and very possible contamination by pipeline leaks. I support well-maintained pipelines, especially those with double (and even triple) sealed barriers against contamination of nearby soil. The real problem is: Rainfall isn’t managed better to “catch” more of what Mother Nature bestows on us; and conversely too many vain landowners in larger cities (such as Manhattan  – where Brownback spoke from) are so accustomed to turning-on the “tap” or “spigot” and letting it “run” without a second-thought. It is absolutely VITAL that Kansans are taught, know how to implement, and actually “practice” water conservation of potable (drinking) water, whether it be excessive use of the garden hose or excessively long showers or baths. Granted, everybody enjoys a green lawn or a cozy hot shower. 

But think back to our Kansas pioneer ancestors who had to hand-carry buckets of water from a nearby creek to cook or bathe. think of their walking perhaps 250 feet to an outhouse bathroom in the middle of some cold winter’s night “when Nature Called” – and there was no fancy Charmin or Quilted Northern or Scott toilet tissue, but rather torn-off pages from newspapers, Montgomery Ward catalogs or even dried corn-cobs. We must “balance” human vanity with human needs and necessities. Without the Ogallala Aquifer, many towns in Kansas would shrivel-up and fade-out rapidly. Even larger towns would feel-the-pinch. 

Presumably, Mr. Brownback will become (or hopes to become) a United States Ambassador at-large for Religious Freedom. I just wish he’d do a better job as Governor, perhaps not preaching – put “proposing” sound water conservation ideas from his “pulpit” he has as Governor. He needs to think more about Western Kansas from Great Bend to St. Francis to Elkhart to Garden City to Medicine Lodge. 

During his term of office, he has largely ignored those areas – or given token lip-service. KANSAS is generally a “dry-land farming State”. The future of raising livestock as well as human existence depends on good, clean water. Brownback would do a better job if he would just summarize any 50 year plan in 6 simple words: “Don’t waste water, conserve it”. 

James A. Marples