Water Vision Team on Statewide Tour July 7-11

Drop Falling into WaterTeam leaders to share first draft of the 50-year Vision with public.

Below the dates are comments by Sierra Club Co-Conservation Chair Duane Schrag.

Topeka, KS – Next week the Governor’s Water Vision Team will be visiting 12 locations throughout the state for citizens to provide input on the first draft of the 50-Year Vision for the Future of Water in Kansas.

“The first draft of the Vision has been posted to our website and we encourage the public to look at the preliminary document,” said Kansas Water Office Director Tracy Streeter. “This discussion draft is based on input the Team has been gathering for months from stakeholders representing all water uses. While we know the solution isn’t a one-size fits all, we hope this can address many of Kansas’ water priorities.”

Last fall Governor Sam Brownback issued a call to action for a 50-Year Vision to ensure a reliable water supply for Kansas citizens. The Team will be at the following locations for input from stakeholders and citizens on the first draft:

Monday, July 7

  • Wichita, KS – 11:30-1 pm, Sedgwick County Extension Center, 4-H Hall, 7001 W 21st Street North
  • St. John, KS – 4:30-6 pm, Stafford County K-State Research & Extension Office, 210 E. 3rd


Tuesday, July 8

  • Liberal, KS – 7-8:30 am, Seward County Activity Building, 810 Stadium Road
  • Garden City, KS – 11:30 am -1 pm, Finney County 4-H Building, 209 W. Lake Avenue
  • Dighton, KS – 4:30-6 pm, Lane County 4-H Building, 755 N. 7th


Wednesday, July 9

  • Colby, KS – 7-8:30 am Colby Community Building, 285 E. 5th
  • Stockton, KS – 11:30 am -1 pm, Rooks County Fairgrounds, Harding Hall 4-H Building, 918 S. Elm
  • Assaria, KS – 4:30-6 pm, Assaria Community Center, 315 E. Main


Thursday, July 10

  • Manhattan, KS – 7-8:30 am, Manhattan Fire Department Headquarters, 2000 Denison Avenue
  • Washington, KS – 11:30 am – 1 pm, First National Bank, 101 C Street
  • Kansas City, KS – 4:30-6 pm, Kansas City Community College, Jewel Room 2325, 7250 State Avenue


Friday, July 11

  • Ft. Scott – 9-10:30 am, Ft. Scott Community College, Ellis Fine Arts Center, 2108 S. Horton

“Kansas and its citizens are continually reminded of the importance of water,” said Secretary Jackie McClaskey. “We look forward to hearing from folks next week because it doesn’t matter what area of Kansas you live in, the entire state is affected by this issue.”
Stakeholders and Kansas citizens are encouraged to attend one of the Vision Tour input sessions. For more information and to view the preliminary discussion draft of the Vision for the Future of Water in Kansas, go to Draft of the Vision Here.

Kansas Sierra Club Comments by Co-Conservation Chair Duane Schrag:

  • The focus on conservation and re-use is welcome and a positive move.
  • Addressing the problem of use-it-or-lose-it regulations is progress.
  • Expanding research into water supply dynamics is a great idea. (It includes “maintain USGS statewide stream gauging network …” That’s a no-brainer!)


That said, there are many indications that this “vision” is about maximizing the profit earned on using water, presumably at the expense of environmental concerns:

  • the mission is to “protect a reliave statewide water supply while balancing conservation with economic growth.” (p 6)
  • Goal: “Continue to grow the Kansas economy by balancing water use appropriately.” (p 7)
  • Goal: “Conserve and extend the usable lifetime of the Ogallala aquifer.” (p 7). Note that it is presumed the Ogallala is going away; this is suggesting we extend the process of depleting it.
  • Goal: “Continue to grow the Kansas economy by balancing water use appropriately.” (p 7)
  • It’s significant that none of the goals including sustainable use of water, which is particularly ironic in light of the overall vision of providing for the long-term.
  • Under Water management (p 19): “3. Evaluate Minimum Desirable Streamflow (MDS) targets based on updated data and needs were determined that changes would improve water management, modify or remove MDS targets.” (emphasis added). This goes to the heart of debates over protecting ecosystems and river quality.
  • On page 20 are several potential action items that involve reducing releases into rivers. Again, the question for us is how this would affect the quality of the river. Note that the goal is increasing water supply yield (which means, the amount of water used by humans for consumption, irrigation, etc.).
  • Under the section on changing water appropriation laws (p 25) we have: 6. Allow for the leasing of water rights to … allow for the full beneficial use of the resource while protecting senior water rights; and 10. Complete a full economic analysis of the role of water in Kansas and how its use can best benefit the Kansas economy. This is language typically used when economic considerations are put ahead of the environment.
  • The focus on improving irrigation efficiency and developing less water-intensive crop varieties sounds good, but it obscures the reality that sustainable use is being sidestepped. As long as water is being withdrawn faster than it can be replaced, our long-term vision is one of planned obsolescence, not long-term survival.
  • The plan calls for more dredging, which of course restores reservoir capacity but at what environmental cost? (p 35)
  • Interbasin transfers (and the infamous aquaduct idea) are on p. 37.

 

Duane Schrag, Conservation Co-Chair
Kansas Sierra Club

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