Granted, its not the most sexy topic, in fact, discussing it seems, well, dry.
But water is definitely a crucial topic. It was addressed by the Barton County Commission Monday morning as it heard a report on a new Federal Emergency Management Agency program designed to better understand rural watersheds.
County Engineer Clark Rusco recently attended a national conference in Maryland on FEMA’s Risk Mapping, Assessment and Planning (Risk MAP) program. Referring to a slide showing a aerial view of a water-covered Great Bend in 1981, he said the key goal of the program is to decrease the likelihood of flooding.
At issue in the area now is the Cow Creek Watershed which stretches from near Otis east to Hutchinson, and from Ellsworth south to Hoisington. Great Bend and Ellinwood don’t fall into the watershed, but Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area does.
To inform the public on this plan, the Kansas Department of Agriculture and Kansas Water Authority are holding a series of meetings. The first will be at 4 p.m. Today in the Hutchinson City Council chambers, the second at 10 a.m. Wednesday at the Hoisington Activity Center and the final one will be at 4 p.m. Wednesday at the Celebration Center in Lyons.
The region has a lot at stake in this matter. While water is the lifeblood of our agriculture economy, it can also be a destructive force.
Sure, Great Bend has a flood control system. Sure, the county has a flood mitigation plan in place. More information and better planning never hurt. If Cow Creek is accepted into this program, there could be federal money available to pay for improvements.
But, area residents have to show they care. They have to take time to attend the meetings and offer their input. The area has an opportunity to flex its muscle and make its voice heard. Make it strong and loud.