Kansas water plan team gets an earful in Hays

Jul 10, 2014

Credit kwo.org

The water plan for the state of Kansas was recently unveiled.  The goal is to ensure a reliable water supply for the future according to a recent article from the Washington Times.

The 46-page “preliminary discussion draft” released by the Kansas Water Office outlines an ambitious four-pronged approach that includes voluntary and involuntary conservation, increased reservoir management efficiency, technological advances in irrigation and plant varieties, as well as development of new water sources.

The draft is a result of public suggestions compiled from 160 meetings across the state.  It contains over 170 general strategies, but no cost estimates.

Susan Metzger is the policy chief at the Kansas Water Office.  She says the reason for the missing financial piece is, “Lead with the need, the money will follow.” 

Water officials stopped in Hays Wednesday, and the Hays Daily News says the team got more than they bargained for. 

Over 50 people attended, asking questions about the availability of water for ethanol plants in areas where water is limited, the domination of the allocation system by agriculture, recharge rates of the Ogallala, and assistance for landowners to build dams in western Kansas.

Bob Hooper was at the meeting.  He says, “Water makes good rhetoric,” and that Gov. Sam Brownback is the fourth governor to jump on the idea of water conservation. 

Greg Sund is the Ellis County Administrator.  He says, “"It's important to remember that you can have all the industrial development you want, but if no one can live here, it doesn't matter.”

Before the session ended, Hooper asked why federal farm programs subsidize water intensive crops in areas with steep water declines.

He didn't get an answer.

Hays was meeting number 7 out of 12 being held across the state.