water conservation

mcdarius, flickr Creative Commons

A task force seeking a way to fund Gov. Brownback’s 50-year water plan appears close to recommending that a small percentage of state sales tax revenue be earmarked for up to $55 million a year in conservation projects.

Rep. Tom Sloan is a Lawrence Republican and a member of the task force. He agrees with the goal but fears the state’s budget problems will make any plan that diverts revenue a tough sell.

Bryan Thompson / Heartland Health Monitor

The economy of western Kansas is based on the Ogallala Aquifer. But that ancient underground water supply is being rapidly depleted. The Kansas Water Office is teaming up with forward-looking farmers in an effort to demonstrate that new irrigation technologies can reduce the demand on the aquifer without sacrificing crop yields.

From mid-May through the end of August, a sound is heard almost non-stop in farm fields all across western Kansas. It’s the sound of an irrigation pump pulling water from deep underground to nourish thirsty crops. Tom Willis owns several of these wells.

usgs.gov

The City of Wichita says storms experienced last weekend dropped more than seven inches of rain in many places. While flooding did occur, the city's water supplies are at comfortable levels.

City officials report that the Cheney Reservoir, which the city relies on for much of its water supply, is so full that it's spilling out into flood pools. It’s quite the contrast to a few years ago, when the city was considering water-use restrictions as the reservoir was nearly half empty.

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The City of Wichita begins it 2016 water rebate program on Monday. Water customers may receive some cash back for purchases that are easy on the water supply.

High-efficiency washing machines, dishwashers and toilets that use less water will qualify for the rebate and can earn their owner a $100 bonus from the city. In addition to those items, prospective recipients can report smart controllers for irrigation and sensors that detect rain and turn off automatic irrigation for the same amount.

Those who have bought a rain barrel can also apply for a rebate up to $75.

mcdarius, flickr Creative Commons

The Governor's Conference on Water will be held next week in Manhattan, Kansas. The two-day conference will focus on the vision for the future of Kansas' water supply.

The conference will address many water-related issues and will help identify or create ways that people can learn about and act on water planning and conservation.

Topics include:

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The state will have series of 26 public meetings across Kansas this month to set regional water supply goals and priorities.

Trained facilitators from Kansas State University Research and Extension and the Institute for Civic Discourse and Democracy will help facilitate the public meetings.

14 regional water leadership teams will create water supply goals based on public input and available resources.

The regional water supply goals that they draft will be presented to the Kansas Water Authority in May.

Workers with the Kansas Geological Survey are hitting the road this month to check groundwater levels in central and western Kansas.

Rex Buchanan, with the KGS, says lessening drought conditions may lead to less aquifer depletion then they’ve seen in recent years. He says irrigation is one of the main uses of water from the aquifer.

“The more it rains, the less you have to irrigate. The less it rains, the more you have to irrigate. In dry years, because there’s less water available naturally, people irrigate more,” says Buchanan

State records show that fewer irrigators are pumping more water than they are allowed to use annually.

The Hutchinson News reports that 114 water right holders received a first-offense warning of civil penalties so far this year for over-pumping in 2013. Another 70 irrigators were warned a second, and, for a few, a third time for over-pumping, and issued a $1,000 fine and temporary cutbacks to their annual water use. A fourth offense results in a water right revocation.

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Yesterday afternoon Wichita’s Public Works & Utilities Department gave a presentation on the future of water supply in the area. City Council members were in attendance and ideas concerning both conservation, as well as new sources of water, were discussed.

Wichita’s Public Works Director Alan King presented a power point demonstration about what could be done to sure up the city’s water supply until the year 2060. King’s model included five plans that he said take into consideration both effectiveness and the city’s budget.

Wichita officials will review the city’s water options for new supplies and conservation.

A workshop on Tuesday at City Hall will include presentations from utility employees on strategies for ensuring a stable water supply through 2060.

Some of those include revamped programs to reduce water usage and adding new sources of water.

The city says some of the conservation options include:

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