water conservation

Paulmcdonald / Wikimedia Commons

Nebraska, Kansas and Colorado have agreed to a method of managing the Republican River, a waterway shared by all three states.

As The Wichita Eagle reports, the river has long been a source of costly legal disputes and bitter exchanges between the states. The new resolutions were praised by the governors of the three states.

KHI news service

From the Kansas Health Institute:

Gov. Sam Brownback’s office announced Tuesday he has signed into law a bill allowing the executive branch to suspend indefinitely the water rights of Kansans who fail to file annual water use reports.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

The Oklahoma House of Representatives has chosen a new leader to take the reins next year, reports member station KOSU. Charles McCall is a Republican from Atoka in southeast Oklahoma. It’s hoped that he will bring a unique perspective on water to the capitol.

Tiffany Stecker / eenews.net

It took 10 million years for the Ogallala Aquifer to fill with water. Now, says a report on eenews.net, after just over a century of pumping and irrigation, a third of the Ogallala is gone, and its future is in grave danger. The Ogallala supplies water to almost 20 percent of the nation's wheat and cotton crops and cattle. But in Haskell County, in the southwest corner of Kansas, water levels have dropped 150 feet since 1950. And that’s just one of many bleak examples.

Ian MacKenzie / Flickr Creative Commons

Did you know it’s against the law to collect rainwater and use it to water your plants in Colorado? In fact, Colorado is the only state in the country where it’s illegal to capture rainwater for use at a later time. And now, reports member station KVNF, lawmakers are debating whether to change that law. If changed, the legislation would allow residents to use rain barrels to collect precipitation that falls from their roofs.


Some interesting facts about the Ogallala Aquifer came to light at the Panhandle-South Plains Water Conservation Symposium in Amarillo last week, reports Amarillo.com. For example, if the water currently in storage in the aquifer only covered the area of a football field, the water would stretch a quarter of the way to the moon.

Prowers Journal

New information is available concerning Colorado’s snowpack and reservoir levels. The Prowers Journal reports that the state’s water supply is in good shape. The information comes from a report released last week by the Natural Resources Conservation Service. According to the Colorado Water Supply Outlook Report, collective snowpack and reservoir levels for the state remain above average. Almost all of Colorado’s eight river basins also sit at above normal levels.

‘Water’ the chances for one individual?

Feb 11, 2016
Kansas Geological Survey

From Agland:

While probably the majority of the people in western Kansas would like to conserve our irrigation water supplies, can one man go it alone?

Almost 40 years ago, I was sitting in the office of Extension ag economist Don Pretzer in Waters Hall on the campus of Kansas State University talking about ways to conserve the Ogallala Aquifer in western Kansas. And he made a very good observation.

mcdarius / Flickr Creative Commons

Beginning early next month Kansas Geological Survey crews will begin studying almost 600 Kansas wells. The research is part of an effort to measure changes in groundwater levels, reports KAKE.

New Modular Home Takes Water Efficiency to Next Level

Dec 31, 2015

The Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon competition this fall was focused on renewable energy. But BuilderOnline reports that one Texas team chose to build a house that took resource conservation a step further.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma saw relief from five years of drought this year—with torrential floods. But state climatologist Gary McManus made clear last week that Oklahomans shouldn’t get too used to all the precipitation, reports StateImpact. “Ocean patterns are favorable for now, but uncertain in the long term,” he said. McManus added, “drought can come back in less than a year’s time.”

Andy Marso / Kaiser Health Institute

From the Kansas Health Institute:

A task force that will make recommendations for how to fund the state’s water projects was unveiled Wednesday.

The Blue Ribbon Task Force is part of the 50-year plan to secure the state’s water supply that Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration rolled out last year.

How a Dry State Grows Plenty of Thirsty Vegetables

Oct 15, 2015
National Geographic

High Plains farmers seeking to grow vegetables with little water resources might consider looking west.

A New Colorado Water Law Is Put to the Test

Sep 30, 2015
Geoff Elliott / Grand Environmental Services

A groundbreaking 2013 Colorado law allows water rights owners to allocate water to a river during times of low flow. And now that law is being put to the test, reports National Geographic. The law is important because it challenges the old “use-it-or lose-it” rule of water conservation.

High Plains States Tackle Water Shortage

Aug 31, 2015
Vonoth Chandar / Flickr Creative Commons

High Plains states are working to combat the water shortage, reports Beef magazine.  

NASA Scientist Sounds Water Shortage Alarm

Aug 27, 2015
Robert Cianflone / Getty Images

A NASA scientist has sounded the alarm on America’s water shortage, reports Beef magazine.  In a recent TED talk, Jay Famiglietti called for a massive shift in the way citizens and governments manage water. Famiglietti suggested the need for more efficient irrigation and better crop selection, including more saline-tolerant and drought-tolerant crops. He also called for improved pricing models, and the institution of national and global water policies.

As Water Dwindles, Beef Producers Try to Stay Afloat

Aug 20, 2015
cenix / Thinkstock

Water is in short supply these days, and Beef Magazine is reminding beef producers to do their part to conserve water. There are multiple ways for ranchers to conserve water.

First and most obvious: Stop the leaks. Turn off all hoses.

The next method is a bit more complicated. It involves recycling. The place to start is with feed yard retention ponds. Ranchers should consider developing a system that cleans the water and makes it acceptable for livestock use.

dr_relling / Creative Commons

Three water managers in Colorado have stated that the state might have enough water to sustain it in the future, despite dwindling resources, climate change, and a growing population. However, these experts stressed that the state MUST be smart about its water and use it wisely, reports Colorado Public Radio. Colorado’s first state water plan, which is available now for viewing, will be finalized in December.

Texas Debates Plan to Battle Future Droughts

Jul 28, 2015
Cynthia Mendoza / Flickr Creative Commons

The current drought in Texas began in 2010. Though the situation has improved somewhat, the drought is still with us—and so are the conditions that caused it, reports StateImpact, a reporting project of local public media and NPR.

Amber Waves of Change: Dust Bowl Revisited? (Part 2)

Apr 6, 2015

The series continues with a look at the current drought conditions in the High Plains Public Radio listening region. In this installment, the question left dangling over our heads is, "Will the days of the Dust Bowl return?"

Amber Waves of Change: High & Dry (Part 1)

Apr 3, 2015

Water- without it life ceases to exist. In the first of a four-part series, Professor David Guth takes a look at the struggle to find balance between water conservation and an economy based on water and agriculture.

Who owns the water? Can you pump as much as you want? Can a private company pump groundwater from one city and pipe it to other communities? The answer could affect the entire Lone Star State.

Water woes don't grip all of Kansas

Mar 19, 2015

The declining Ogallala aquifer is front and center in the state of Kansas.  But one south-central farmer wants to make it clear that water woes don’t grip the whole state reports Kansas Agland.

John Janssen is a farmer in Kinsley.  He’s also a board member of Big Bend Groundwater Management District No. 5.  He says not to throw the whole state in with the Ogallala. 

Widespread agreement, no action yet on increasing overpumping penalties in Kansas.

Discussion was limited to four questions decided prior to the second regional water planning meeting in WaKeeney. Halting water declines at their current levels led one table’s discuss to the conclusion of “no irrigation and more education.” Water quality and nutrients steered to criticism of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the division of Water Resources for proposed regulations. Another group discussion asked the question, “How do you get people from broadly different backgrounds to come together, sit down, and discuss solutions?”


The Department of Agriculture has improved the federal Conservation Stewardship Program, offering $100 million to landowners taking steps to conserve soil and natural resources.  But, they’re doing a poor job of telling farmers about it reports Bruce Knight for Agri-Pulse.

Knight says high profile initiatives like providing habitat for the lesser prairie chicken or conserving the Ogallala Aquifer are getting all the attention because of political priorities.  He says what excites him are the enhancements embracing modern precision agriculture technology, soil health, cover crops and fertilizer management.

Kansas water plan flows forward

Jan 13, 2015

Gov. Sam Brownback’s 50-year water plan is moving forward.  A statewide conservation panel is being selected.  The panel will investigate solutions for Kansas as a whole, while regional teams will look for local answers.

Hays is a success Brownback hopes to duplicate across the state reports the Kansas Health Institute.  The north central community’s wells went dry in 1991.  A comprehensive water-saving plan was developed.  Fewer, more efficient wells were dug.  Incentives for low-flow toilets, shower heads, high efficiency washing machine were provided by the city.  New construction codes changed to include water conservation mandates.  City leaders went into schools education the kids about water conservation.  Now the community of 21,000 people uses about the same amount of water it did in 1970 when the population was about 15,000.

Quentin Hope

A report on water use for fracking in Texas finds that it is not the only or even the most significant contributor to the longstanding problem of water use in Texas. 

The policy brief by The Mosbacher Institute for Trade, Economics and Public Policy at Texas A&M University is based on a study that looks closely at water use in the Eagle Ford Shale formation in south Texas where fresh groundwater aquifers are overdrawn by nearly 2.5 times their recharge rate.  Hydraulic fracturing operations there make up the third largest use of groundwater, well behind irrigation, the primary use.  However, hydraulic fracturing does requires large amounts of water, roughly five million gallons, for each well.


Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientists are wrapping up a two-year study to determine the best combination of corn hybrids, planting dates and maturity to maintain yield and maximize water-use efficiency reported Laboratory Equipment.  The lead researcher is Dr. Qingwu Xue.  He’s a crop stress physiologist.  He says the overall goal of the study is to determine if irrigation water can be saved while preserving yields. 

Kansas Gov Candidates Oppose Waterway Rules

Oct 24, 2014

Both candidates for Kansas governor oppose the new EPA rule increasing the number of waterways subject to federal regulations.