Friday, January 28, 2011

NW KS GMD 4 AWEP - March 4 Deadline

NRCS and Three Groundwater Management Districts Partner through Agricultural Water Enhancement Program

Application Cutoff Date March 4, 2011

Eric B. Banks, State Conservationists for the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Kansas, announced recently that irrigators in northwest and southcentral Kansas in designated priority areas are once again eligible to conserve water and improve water quality on agricultural working lands through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Water Enhancement Program (AWEP). Through AWEP, the USDA will leverage additional resources and services from conservation partners. USDA NRCS administers the program and enters into agreements with conservation partners to help landowners plan and implement conservation practices in priority areas established through the agreements.

“Three Kansas groundwater management districts (GMDs) partnered with other local agencies and organizations to submit AWEP proposals that were approved,” said Banks. The GMDs began partnering with NRCS through AWEP in Fiscal Year (FY) 2010. Producers in the project areas have until March 4, 2011, to apply for this program at their local NRCS office.

Project areas are shown on a map at :

Northwest Kansas Groundwater Management District No. 4 (GMD No. 4) was funded for a three-year period receiving almost $2.7 million in FY 2010. Six designated agricultural areas are eligible to directly conserve groundwater. To address the aquifer overdraft concern, NRCS and the GMD No. 4 seek to convert irrigated to dryland cropland acres in portions of Cheyenne, Sherman, Sheridan, and Thomas Counties.

I can't stress enough, if you are in one of the GMD 4 HPAs and are interested in transitioning irrigated acres to conserve the groundwater, get with the GMD office of your local NRCS.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Who Has the Time?

You have to be kidding me!  I got an email today from a colleague who asked if I was interested in weather-based irrigation controllers as a possible grant request under an AWEP proposal.  This would be an irrigation efficiency kind of approach.  The actual email was a link to the EPA's WaterSense page where the agency is setting up to take a second round of public comments on equipment specifications.  The EPA line is:

"EPA Releases WaterSense Revised Draft Specification for Weather-Based Irrigation Controllers. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released the WaterSense Revised Draft Specification for Weather-Based Irrigation Controllers. The revised draft addresses stakeholder comments on the initial draft released in November 2009.

With more than 13.5 million irrigation systems currently installed in the United States, replacing existing standard clock timer controllers with WaterSense labeled weather-based irrigation controllers could offer significant water savings for homeowners and organizations using irrigation systems. Weather-based controllers create or modify irrigation schedules based on the landscape needs and real-time weather data."

I went to the link (EPA Watersense Page - Weather-based Irrigation Controllers) to learn a little more.  YIKES!  IF you were wanting to intelligently participate in the process of offering public comments, at this site you'll find 31 links and 614 pages of materials you will need to explore first!  Get real!  There has to be a better way!  I won't be participating.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Will It Be Water Or Economy in Kansas?

An interesting set of dynamics is underway in Kansas over a possible showdown between economic stimulation and water conservation.  When you think about it, it has always been a constant tug of war between these two philosophies.  How many government decisions are made to spur the economy which have had negative water conservation implications?  And how many water conservation decisions have had negative economic implications?  I have said many times, until we can design and implement government policy that addresses BOTH the reduction of water use AND the increase of economic productivity, we're not addressing the bigger issue.  I've blogged on this before, but I digress.

Now to the point at hand.  Kansas' former Agriculture Secretary, who in that position was intensly interested and invested in water, water rights and water use efficiency, is now our new Governor who has campaigned on the almost singular platform of economic stimulation - first and foremost.  Not a word in his campaign about water.  It makes many of us wonder where the state's water conservation ethic will go now. 

Maybe the first test will be the Governor's reaction to the state's most aggressive water conservation program yet - the Water Transition Assistance Program (WTAP) - a program that will sunset after this year - 2011.  Pilot WTAP has committed about $1.5 million per year for the past 5 years to retire water rights and transition irrigated acres to dry land production, and it must be re-enacted to continue.  Of course, everyone knows that ag production drops as this water is conserved by the retirement of the water rights.  Therein lies the dilemma.

I tried three times during the campaign (through his Twitter account) to ask him about the "water plank" of his platform, but never got any response.  I guess I'll never know if he ignored me or if there was a disconnect between him and whomever he had running his Twitter account.  Anyway, I guess we'll see soon enough, because water is getting no less important in Kansas, and the Governor will have to weigh in soon.  If I chose to lay a bet, I'd be betting on economic development over water conservation, but....

Friday, January 21, 2011

An 1896 Editorial on Wisconsin Groundwater for Schools

Also in my home library is a bound set of The Outlook magazines from December, 1895 through November, 1896.  Chock full of interesting articles, advertisements and much, much more.  I ran across the following article in the Home Club section of the August, 29, 1896 edition (no author cited):

"Water-Supply to Schools

Investigation into the conditions of the water-supply of the country schools in Wisconsin revealed five wells out of one hundred as yielding pure water.  It is true that God made the country and man made the town, but it is equally true that man has done his best by greed and ignorance to spoil what God has made.  Imagine the effect on some school committeemen of demanding an investigation into the condition of the school supply of water !  Imagine the presentation of a bill before the town authorities for the scientific care of the supply and waste of water at the school-house !  It takes brains to see the relation between the loss through sickness and death and the sanitary conditions surrounding the school-house."

I guess you can't argue with the author's logic - especially since no author is listed.  Anyway, I hope things have improved in Wisconsin since then.

Friday, January 7, 2011

NAWAPA is Back in the News

The North American Water and Power Alliance (NAWAPA) system for continental water management was first proposed by the Ralph M. Parsons Company in 1964. It was an ambitious proposal to tap the excess flows from the Yukon and McKenzie River systems in Alaska and NW Canada, and through a series of dams, reservoirs, canals, tunnels and pumping stations will transfer this new supply all the way from NW Canada and Alaska to the Great Lakes and Upper Mississippi Valley to the western US and northern Mexico.

In all, the project is slated to control 4.4 billion AF of water annually, 1.5 billion of which is to be distributed and used - the US receiving 80 million AF, Canada 58 million and Mexico 20 million. The accounting is a bit fuzzy, because the printed material shows the US getting 80 million AF, while the interactive map presentation says 72 million. Either way, it’s a bucketful of water.

The collection and transfer facilities proposed are complex to say the least, but what I find most interesting is the use of the Rocky Mountain Trench – a natural gorge – as the main storage feature. The problem? All the water has to be lifted several thousand feet to use this huge bathtub. For more detail on this part of the plan, the interactive map found on the following website is recommended:

Of all this water and infrastructure, Kansas doesn’t fare too well. We end up with a fuzzy 1 million AF and no reservoirs, tunnels or canals (power). Moreover, there is no explanation of how we are to secure this water from the closest NAWAPA terminus in NE Colorado – the Colorado Reservoir - somewhere East of Denver. Of course, the good news is the Colorado reservoir is way handier to NW Kansas than anywhere else in the state – unless they choose to stop at the Ark River crossing and forego Denver.

The website presentation ends with: “Lyndon LaRouche's latest writings on a true science of physical economy, as well as supplementary video material on the LaRouchePAC website, the NAWAPA map is a challenge to the American population to imagine what kind of future is possible, if we can rise above the cultural pessimism of recent decades, in order to make NAWAPA a reality—beginning with the removal of President Obama from office.” NAWAPA won’t be political, will it?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Groundwater Management Districts to Meet

January 12-14, 2011 the Groundwater Management Districts Association (GMDA) will meet in San Antonio, TX for their 36th annual conference.  The Hotel Drury on the Riverwalk will host the affair.  Our GMD, the Northwest Kansas Groundwater Management District No. 4 has been involved in this association since its inception in 1976.

There are over 30 local GMD's from 7 or 8 states in the association, so the scope of groundwater issues and approaches is pretty well covered. It often amazes me how similar Kansas' groundwater issues are with those of Mississippi, and how different they are as well.  One thing is for sure, meeting from time to time to discuss groundwater issues is an excellent way to view the groundwater world from a variety of perspectives.

The varying legal approaches to groundwater over the participating states does make for some interesting discussions.  What other states are doing with and about their groundwater resources must always be filtered through that state's groundwater statutes before being considered in your own state.  This can be a challenge at times.  However, these comparisons are always productive in my opinion.

If you're interested in groundwater, you may want to consider looking into GMDA.  Two links for further information are:  GMDA Main Website and GMDA History Link  Visit the main website for specific conference information.  I hope to see you in San Antonio.