water conservation

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.

kansasagnetwork.com

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?”

deschutesswcd.com

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.

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.

laboratoryequipment.com

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. 

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

Farmers in Texas County, Oklahoma, face three big challenges: wind, not much rain, and heat, but in the last two decades they've reduced water consumption by 60%.

USDA / NRCS

Over its 80-year history, the federal government's Farm Bill program refined soil, water and habitat conservation programs. Along the way, its strategy changed from "let's see how many we can sign up" to a more focused  "best bang for the buck" approach to conservation, spending funds on projects to conserve fragile landscapes.

Robert W Hart / texastribune.org

Water is being pumped from Lake Meredith to supplement water wells in Amarillo.  The Canadian River Municipal Water Authority reported recent rains have raised the water level at Lake Meredith from last year’s record low of 26 feet a current level of 43.5 feet according to a recent article from the Amarillo Globe-News.

thesucculentsource.com

One of the hottest trends in houseplants or patio pots is a widely mixed variety of succulents.  From tiny miniatures to super shrub sizes, these plants are fun to look at and to grow.  Akin to camels in that they can carry enough water to survive hot, dry locales, succulents can be a thorny cactus, a smooth and silky aloe or just about anything in between.

usgs.org

This is the last installment of the water series.  Amy Bickel covered facts about the Ogallala Aquifer in a story published by Kansas Agland.

k-state.edu

One thing that mixes into the Kansas water debate is where you live.  I have a neighbor from eastern Kansas who works hard to get things that grow wild in pastures of her childhood home to simply survive in her western Kansas flower bed. 

What is seen to some as hocus-pocus, helps farmers and ranchers find water in Logan.

Tim Unruh / Salina Journal

Even though it’s 2014, for Jerry and Diane McReynolds they live like it’s the 1800s.  The McReynolds’ domestic well in Rooks County, Kansas, went dry in October 2013.   The couple are members of Rural Water District No. 3, but service is not reliable, especially during the day reported Tim Unruh for the Salina Journal.

knrc.ws

Everyone knew the open, treeless High Plains wasn’t a place to put down roots.  Making a home, farming, and development takes water, and in Western Kansas it’s arid and rainfall is in short supply.  Enter the grand idea of irrigation.

nasa.gov

The ag world is gearing up to feed 9 billion people, but the Ogallala Aquifer sprawling under the surface of eight Midwestern states is going down the drain.  In fact, in some places, it’s gone reported Amy Bickel for Kansas Agland.

The Kansas economy relies on water and for more than a generation, experts have warned that western Kansas' economic resource is vanishing. The Hutchinson News and the Salina Journal are delving into the issues surrounding the declining Ogallala Aquifer and how it affects Kansas. Water: Past, present, and future begins today with a look at a water-centered economy.

lubbockonline.com

Plains Cotton Growers support the High Plains Underground Water Conservation District’s proposal to limit groundwater use on private farmland in Texas.  

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.

kgs.ku.edu

Water rights holders in Western Kansas counties recently rejected a plan to conserve the Ogallala Aquifer.  Groundwater Management District No. 1 board members asked its voting membership to approve a measure to that would cut irrigation use by 20 percent reported Amy Bickel for Kansas Agland.

Cindee Talley

Techniques that make every drop of water count in your xeriscape beds include how much, how often, and how to apply that gardener's liquid gold.  The importance of soil preparation is also discussed this week.  

texastribune.org

The depleting of aquifers and endless drought has spurred discussion, debate, and even court cases about who owns the water.  Groundwater and rain are familiar disagreements, but in Texas wastewater has stepped on stage. 

distancebetweencities.net

Amarillo residents are not conserving water.  The city’s water usage goal is 52 million gallons per day.  Every day this month has exceeded that amount reported the Amarillo Globe-News.

Dale Daniel

Playas are those big ponds you see dotting across the High Plains.  They provide habitat for amphibians and points for aquifer recharge.  A study from Oklahoma State University suggests the Federal Conservation Reserve Program does have a positive impact on the health of the playas, but does not restore them reported The Environmental Monitor.

homeadvisor.com

Amarillo is in the fourth year of drought conditions, yet residents continue to exceed city water usage goals.  During the month of April, there have only been three days when water use was below the goal of about 44 million gallons.  This past Monday, residents used almost 60 million gallons according to the Amarillo Globe-News.

Water Basics 101

Apr 9, 2014
EPRI, 2014

Math helps us understand the causes of water shortages, how much water we’re wasting, as well as predict flooding.  The big picture can be seen when you grasp how much water is falling as rain or snow, moving into rivers or aquifers, and how much is being used in cities, industry and farms.  An explanation of the current water situation from the National Geographic can be found here.   

Winter Watering

Mar 5, 2014
masterofhort.com

A trip to the county extension office for a botanical diagnosis of a sickly tree branch paid off with reassurance that all was well.  While I was there I was also served up a refresher course in wise watering practices for our consistently dry and thirsty area.  We reviewed some things I knew about, but am sometimes lax in following.  And I learned a thing or two about making every precious drop of moisture count, even when rainfall is skimpy.   

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