water conservation

To conclude our three-part series on how gardeners new to our region can overcome reduced water access, today's installment of Growing on the High Plains goes underground -- literally. 

In addition to thoughtful xeriscaping and maximizing moisture with mulch, those committed to making water conservation a top priority can consider planning and installing a drip system.  With the flip of a switch, you can ensure that every drop goes  where it's needed -- saving time and energy.

Going it Alone

Apr 12, 2017
EMHKE

VANCE:   Hey! I'm Vance Ehmke and we farm in Lane County KS. Today Louise and I are going to talk about stretching water.

LOUISE: While most people in western Kansan would like to conserve irrigation water,can one man go it alone?

VANCE: 40 years ago I was up at K-State talking with ag economist Don Pretzer about ways to conserve the Ogallala aquifer. And he made a very good observation.

April Showers

Mar 24, 2017
Janet Huelskamp - Fowler, KS

Hello, Radio Readers! Where have the books in our spring series Water and Replenishment been taking you?

Me? Well, talking about these books have made for some fantastic conversations! One example: some friends and I were noticing surprising similarities between Milagro Beanfield War and Dune. Sure, one is set in northern New Mexico almost 50 years ago while the other takes place on a desert planet 20,000 years in the future. But both show the ways that limiting access to a limited resource empowers a few and deprives many. William Ashworth’s 2006 Ogallah Blue: Water and Life on the High Plains documents the consequences of certain entrenched beliefs that some have a greater right to, a greater need of, water than others. Listen to the questions he asks: “should underground water be a public resource, as it is in six of eight High Plain states, or should it belong to the owner of the overlying earth, as in Oklahoma, or to no one, as in Texas?” He also wonders whether a standard of “beneficial use” should be applied when pumping ground water. Who defines that standard? Who resolves conflicts between competing needs?  These are the same questions at the heart of the fictional Milagro Beanfield War and of Dune, right?

Reflections on Ogallala Blue

Mar 10, 2017
CREATIVE COMMONS

I appreciate Kathy Holt asking me to review Ogallala Blue by William Ashworth for High Plains Public Radio. I had read the book several years ago, and recently read it again for the review. 

Ogallala Blue is a good read for those who are focused on water resource challenges from the environmental, socio-economic, engineering, or well owner perspective. Ashworth uses a series of case studies to describe the history and future challenges of the Ogallala aquifer on the High Plains.    Today, many High Plains communities exist and thrive because of the Ogallala.

In Texas, Ogallala water levels have been declining since the 1930’s because well owners have been pumping more water from the aquifer’s storage than recharge can replenish.  As aquifer levels decline, finding and pumping water becomes progressively costlier to the region’s economy.  I agree with Jeff Johnson’s interview in the book that the High Plains economy based on pumping from the Ogallala will not experience a collapse but “a long slow decline to a lower level”.  To maintain the High Plains economy, stakeholders will need to develop other economic input sources that do not rely so heavily on groundwater.

You Already Know . . .

Feb 10, 2017
LYNNE HEWES

It doesn’t make any difference whether you’re reading  John Nichols’ The Milagro Beanfield War to find out why Joe Mondragon diverted a stream of water for his little bean field.  It doesn’t matter if you’re hearing the religious ritual of “No man shall ever again want for water…” in Frank Herbert’s classic science fiction novel Dune.    It doesn’t even count that you’ve been mesmerized by William Ashworth in his history of the Ogallala Aquifer, called Ogallala Blue.

You already knew about the importance of water.

Colorado State University

A Colorado State University crop and soil scientist recently secured funding for sites in northeastern Colorado, Kansas and Nebraska to look at ways diversifying crop rotations and using cover crops can maintain yields, keep soils productive, reduce environmental impacts and address retention of soil carbon and water.

Megan Schipanski, CSU crop and soil scientist, applied for the grant and extension personnel on the High Plains will be assisting in local areas by providing a solid producer base for onsite research

Flyhighplato

In western Kansas, meanwhile, a farmer and local officials were recently honored for their efforts to preserve water.

A Finney County farmer and the City of Garden City were recognized earlier this month at the Governor’s Water Conference in Manhattan for taking measures to conserve, reuse or adopt practices aimed at preserving the state’s future water resources.

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.

www.nebraskaeducationonlocation.org

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
NexusHaus.com

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
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. 

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