Monday, December 31, 2012

Kansas Thinks Drought Will Continue

The state water planners, the Governor included, are thinking the 2011-2012 drought in Kansas is more likely to continue for another year as to end. As such, they are starting to notify water users of this possibility. I guess maybe "prepare water users" might be a more accurate way to phrase their activity.

The Governor has just released a letter to all public water suppliers in Kansas asking for drought plans to be developed if not already done, reviewed if already in place, and evaluated and updated in all cases. Here is his letter:

Dear Public Water Supplier,

The persistent drought in which we find ourselves is not expected to end in the near term. In the mean time, I have asked all Kansans to take steps to reduce water usage.

As a public water supplier, you can take some specific steps in the next couple weeks. If you have your own source of supply, whether ground or surface, make an assessment of the current quantity of water available. What is the depth to groundwater in your well and how does it compare to historic levels; what capacity remains in your lake? If you purchase water, check with your supplier to see if they have measured the supply.

Another step you can take is to review your conservation plan and drought response triggers and actions. Evaluate your experience from this past year. Plan to update those plans if needed to be prepared to address water supply needs should the drought continue as predicted. If you purchase treated water, contact your seller to coordinate conservation efforts with them. If you are a seller of treated water, contact those systems you sell to and ensure they have the ability to invoke conservation measures in their systems.

We have all seen news reports of large cities and small towns across the nation that have run out, or nearly run out of water due to lack of planning and monitoring. Let’s make sure that others look to Kansas and our public water suppliers as an example of how to deal with drought rather than what happens when you don’t prepare. 

If you need assistance with your drought plan update or evaluating your water supply, please contact the Kansas Water Office at 1-888-KAN-WATER (1-888-526-9283). I would like you to report to KWO by January 8, 2013 the results of your water supply evaluation.

Thank you for your timely attention to this matter as this will better prepare us all to deal with the continuing drought. We are all in this together and will work collectively to weather the challenges.

It is interesting to me that he is asking for a definitive action (a water supply evaluation) on behalf of every public water supplier in the state.  This has never happened before - at least not since early 1977 when I came to Kansas.  But he clearly stops short of making this exercise a directive.  Either way, it is probably sound advice.  I also have to wonder if and when a similar call for action will be requested of the irrigation folks of the state who use by far the most water. 


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