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Being proactive

Water is in short supply. That isn't expected to change in the near future.

We're sure that comes as no surprise to anyone in northwest Kansas. And if it does, well, we're sure you're living under a rock at the bottom of a spring-filled pond.

At the same time, it should be no surprise to residents the Hays City Commission unanimously approved moving into a water warning stage in a preemptive measure to help declining water levels.

The move is being made in advance before the heat of spring and summer takes control. Officials estimate the "official" warning status wouldn't be reached until mid- to late summer, but are taking every route possible to help conserve one of our greatest resources.

The city of Hays, and the entire northwest Kansas region, has been in the grips of continued drought situations for some time, and city commissioners should be applauded for their effort to take additional precautions.

The early warning status also helps residents prepare to take appropriate measures as the planting season approaches.

"Knowing that a lot of people plan their lawns, their gardens, a lot of that now, I would hate for people to plan a big garden, a lawn-replacement program ... and then have it move to water warning, which is going to penalize them from a monetary standpoint," Hays City Manager Toby Dougherty said at Thursday night's commission meeting.

It's forward-thinking by city officials to plan ahead and give residents as much possible notice of just how dire the situation is already.

It's also a comforting sentiment the city is planning to enact proper water-saving measures, too. In the past, the city has drawn criticism from residents for continuing to water public parks and ball fields to lush-green status.

Under the water warning, city parks and ball fields will be watered only to preserve roots, meaning the city is going to be working under the same requirements it expects residents to be operating under.

Outdoor watering will not be allowed between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m. -- the hottest hours of the day -- and private wells could be restricted as well.

Officials estimate if things don't change, the city could hit the emergency status in 2015. If that happens, city pools will not be filled and will be closed until the status is lifted.

Thursday's action is a stark reminder of just how important it is for everyone to be conserving water -- if they haven't started already.

Editorial by Nick Schwien

nschwien@dailynews.net