News Feature | December 2, 2013

Kansas Approaching 'Pivotal' Water Moment

By Sara Jerome


Kansas Governor Sam Brownback is pushing his state to adopt a long-term strategy for water issues. 

"We are at a pivotal moment," Brownback said recently, according to the Topeka-Capital Times. "We can talk these issues to death, but without vision we won’t be able to address these priorities."

The state needs to confront groundwater decline in the Ogallala Aquifer, and hammer out a reservoir strategy, he said. Officials should look 50 years into the future as they craft these plans.

"Water and the Kansas economy are directly linked. Water is a finite resource, and without further planning and action we will no longer be able to meet our state’s current needs, let alone growth," Brownback said. 

Government and industry are collaborating on the plan with the intention of publishing it by next November. Brownback hopes the state will officially adopt it soon after that.

According to the governor, the state has already made some vital efforts to protect its water supply. These include changes the state legislature made to water laws in order to provide "more ways for other regions of the state to manage water and prolong the life of the Ogallala Aquifer," the Associated Press reported.

Another measure "removed the 1945 policy that required water rights holders to use their allotment each year or lose the right to the water. Another change granted additional flexibility for use of water in dry years," the report said.

In Kansas, water issues sometimes spark tension with Missouri. 

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said in a recent letter to Brownback that "Kansas water officials should reconsider studying the feasibility of building a 360-mile aqueduct," according to another Associated Press piece

According to the Lawrence Journal, Brownback called for a "study on a proposal to divert water from the Missouri River and transport that water through canals some 360 miles to irrigate crops in western Kansas."

The so-called Kansas Aqueduct Project "has been on the shelf for decades, but has recently been re-emphasized by water officials in Kansas," the report said.

Image credit: "Kansas Sunrise," © 2009 Roy Montgomery, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license:

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