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....

No comments:

Post a Comment