Wednesday, November 27, 2013

It's Not Just Happening to Us...

Several years of dry winters and unusually hot summers have left Canada's subarctic regions in serious trouble, causing severe and worrisome desiccation of the regions' lakes.  After the exclusive study of 70 lakes near Old Crow, Yukon and Churchill, Manitoba it became apparent that most of the lakes had become less than a meter deep, with dead vegetation banking the shores.  The problem comes primarily from a decline in "melt-water" that usually supplies the lakes.  For example, from 2010 to 2012 the average winter precipitation in Churchill decreased by 76mm when compared to the average that had been recorded between the years 1971 and 2000.  "With this type of lake, precipitation in the form of snow represents 30% to 50% of the annual water supply," explained the study's lead author, Frederic Bouchard.  Clearly, a lack on snow fall will rapidly and drastically affect the water levels and viability of the lakes.  With several ecological and environmental concerns buzzing through the air researchers have become increasingly concerned, in addition to the realization that this decline has not been seen in the 200 years of its observation.  So folks, back here in the USA we surely are not the only ones feeling the pressure and concern associated with water resources and conservation.  Just one of the many issues concerning water around the globe.


Monday, November 18, 2013

Reduced Ethanol??

On November 15th 2013 USA Today came out with an article explaining the changes in recent Ethanol use regulations and how this once championed bio-fuel law of 2007 has not been working as had once been expected.  In fact for the first time, officials are planning to reduce the amount of ethanol in the US's fuel supply.  At the beginning, the law had hoped to address climate change concerns while encouraging homegrown bio-fuels that would burn cleaner than gasoline.  The ethanol cut back, would require approximately 3 billion gallons less ethanol to be used.  The variable that had not been considered during the initial bio-fuel discussions, was the possibility for such fuel economy improvements as what has taken place over the last several years.  "Bio-fuels are a key part of the Obama administration's 'all the above' energy strategy, helping to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, cut carbon pollution and create job," stated EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.  This proposed ethanol reduction could bring some flack, when reflecting on statements of the past.  In addition the ethanol mandate has caused quite a stir amongst both oil companies and environmental groups.  As the market continues to fluctuate and technology undoubtedly progresses, what will be the future of bio-fuel vehicle use?

Friday, November 15, 2013

Governor's Conference Calls for Change

The second annual Governor’s Conference; The Future of Water in Kansas took place in  Manhattan Kansas at the end of October.  The Conference drew over 500 participants from across the state including several state officials and agricultural producers as well as numerous vendors and exhibitors.  The conference itself centered around water usage in the state of Kansas, and what we may be able to expect in coming years.  Three main speakers took the stage including author Charles Fishman, who has written books such as the “Wal-Mart Effect” and “The Big Thirst.” In addition, The Southern Nevada Water Authority ‘s Director Pat Mulroy, was also in attendance discussing the severe water shortages Nevada has experienced in recent years.  She also touched on the ways in which the authority has dealt with and solved resource issues such as municipal water supply security, and implemented water use reduction policies.  The final speaker was Dr. James Stack, who is currently serving as the Director of The Great Plains Diagnostic Network while continuing his work as a Professor for Kansas State University in Plant Pathology.  Dr. Stack is responsible for coordinating a 9-state project, enhancing the rapid detection and diagnosis of high consequence plant pathogens and pests.  All three speakers provided tremendous insight on relevant water issues.
            The two day conference also included several breakout sessions, providing wonderful opportunities for individuals from across the state to update one another on current events happening in different regions.   A topic which was touched on several times throughout the conference was the concept of Local Enhanced Management or the LEMA law, and how this tool could now be used in the effort of prolonging the life of the Ogallala Aquifer.  Throughout the presentations, breakout sessions and guest lectures, one thing became even more apparent to the audience, that the State of Kansas as a whole has only become increasingly concerned with the future of the state’s water resources.  During the Governor’s opening speech on Thursday morning, he called for the development of a 50 year water plan for Kansas to be completed by November 2014.  In this plan, he hopes to see several ways in which each region of the state will address future water resource concerns and present issues, as well as to set goals indicating what the state of Kansas would like to see for their future.  With such a great task at hand the Kansas Water Office indicated that they would immediately begin working with several state agencies and focus committees as well as the state’s five Groundwater Management Districts in order to accomplish this undertaking.  In all, the 2013 Governor’s Conference provided an incredible opportunity for ideas and research to be shared, making it clearer than ever that this precious water resource will remain to be one of the most important issues of our lifetime.