www.mozilla.com Weather Central
Voices
Headlines

Embarrassing economists -10/24/2014, 9:13 AM

Sherow for House -10/24/2014, 9:13 AM

It can't get crazier (wanna bet?) -10/24/2014, 9:04 AM

Digital distractions -10/23/2014, 10:01 AM

Orman for Senate -10/23/2014, 10:01 AM

Federal persecutors -10/23/2014, 10:00 AM

Kids do count -10/22/2014, 10:31 AM

Needing the past in the future? -10/22/2014, 10:31 AM

In praise of hunting -10/22/2014, 10:30 AM

What is a CID? Will it work for mall? -10/21/2014, 10:22 AM

Judging importance on the ballot -10/21/2014, 10:22 AM

Kansas Speaks -10/21/2014, 10:22 AM

Paying for schools -10/19/2014, 1:21 PM

Joining forces for Orman -10/19/2014, 1:21 PM

Research before voting -10/19/2014, 1:21 PM

Davis is moderate? -10/19/2014, 1:21 PM

The most important election in your lifetime -10/19/2014, 1:21 PM

Huelskamp stands out -10/19/2014, 1:21 PM

Kansas farm interests -10/19/2014, 1:21 PM

Keeping unfounded reports from 'going viral' -10/19/2014, 1:21 PM

The age of cynicism -10/18/2014, 9:02 AM

Preventable diseases -10/17/2014, 10:28 AM

Second term needed -10/17/2014, 10:28 AM

Kansans deserve better -10/17/2014, 10:28 AM

Officially killing Americans -10/17/2014, 10:27 AM

New era at FHSU -10/16/2014, 10:01 AM

Roberts is right choice -10/16/2014, 10:01 AM

Crumbling Constitution -10/16/2014, 9:52 AM

Redbelly's future -10/16/2014, 9:52 AM

Kansas deserves better -10/15/2014, 10:23 AM

Remember to vote on Nov. 4 -10/15/2014, 10:23 AM

You almost feel sorry for Sean Groubert -10/15/2014, 10:23 AM

Register to vote -10/14/2014, 10:14 AM

Living on that 70 percent -10/14/2014, 10:14 AM

New bullying problem for schools: parents -10/14/2014, 10:14 AM

Cheerios, marriage equality, the Supreme Court -10/13/2014, 9:49 AM

Wedded bliss -10/12/2014, 5:54 PM

Who is the real fraud? -10/12/2014, 5:08 PM

Teenagers 'make some noise' -10/12/2014, 5:08 PM

Not so private property -10/10/2014, 10:01 AM

Federal funding -10/10/2014, 10:01 AM

Teacher indoctrination -10/10/2014, 10:01 AM

Vote Republican -10/9/2014, 9:49 AM

Non-partisan politics -10/9/2014, 9:49 AM

Teen driver safety week Oct. 19 to 25 -10/9/2014, 9:04 AM

FHSU party -10/9/2014, 10:11 AM

Poverty in America -10/9/2014, 10:11 AM

Let the women serve -10/9/2014, 10:11 AM

Time for new direction -10/8/2014, 9:49 AM

Improving Kansas economically -10/8/2014, 9:35 AM

Water abusers -10/8/2014, 9:35 AM

Play safe on the farm -10/8/2014, 9:34 AM

Where the money comes from -10/7/2014, 10:24 AM

The president's security -10/7/2014, 10:24 AM

Marriage equality -10/7/2014, 10:24 AM

The sins of the father are visited -10/6/2014, 9:02 AM

Cannabis in America: The bottom line -10/6/2014, 9:20 AM

A reason to celebrate -10/6/2014, 9:20 AM

Gov. shields wealthy from paying for schools -10/5/2014, 2:07 PM

Passionate protest in defense of civil disorder -10/5/2014, 2:07 PM

October is time for baseball and, of course, film premieres -10/4/2014, 2:16 PM

Alley cleanup -10/3/2014, 10:01 AM

Will the West defend itself? -10/3/2014, 10:01 AM

Find another school -10/3/2014, 10:01 AM

It's better now -10/2/2014, 9:17 AM

The answer is to bomb Mexico? -10/2/2014, 9:17 AM

Falling revenue -10/2/2014, 9:17 AM

School facilities -10/1/2014, 9:27 AM

Look ahead, not back -10/1/2014, 9:27 AM

Secret Service needs to step up its game -10/1/2014, 9:27 AM

Roosevelts were true leaders -9/30/2014, 9:18 AM

Moral bankruptcy -9/30/2014, 9:18 AM

Expect some sort of change in Topeka -9/30/2014, 9:18 AM

'A tale of two countries' -9/29/2014, 9:59 AM

The last of the Willie Horton ads? -9/29/2014, 9:59 AM

Finding answers to the future of Kansas -9/28/2014, 2:20 PM

College: Where religious freedom goes to die -9/28/2014, 2:20 PM

Honoring Hammond -9/28/2014, 2:20 PM

Do statistical disparities mean injustice? -9/26/2014, 9:53 AM

World university rankings -9/26/2014, 9:52 AM

Kansas experiment -9/26/2014, 9:52 AM

Two anti-choice parties -9/25/2014, 10:03 AM

Not in the same old Kansas anymore -9/25/2014, 10:03 AM

Domestic violence -9/25/2014, 10:03 AM

Back to war we go -9/24/2014, 9:55 AM

Piling on the NFL -9/24/2014, 9:54 AM

Emma Watson looking for a few good men -9/24/2014, 9:54 AM

Renter runaround -9/23/2014, 7:32 PM

Enough is enough -9/23/2014, 9:02 AM

Life of politics in the state -9/23/2014, 9:02 AM

What is and is not child abuse -9/22/2014, 9:30 AM

Cannabis politics and research -9/22/2014, 9:30 AM

Future of The Mall -9/21/2014, 6:14 PM

Multiculturalism is a failure -9/19/2014, 9:52 AM

State education rankings -9/19/2014, 9:52 AM

Kobach gone wild -9/19/2014, 9:52 AM

Bias prevents civil discussion of education issues -9/18/2014, 9:35 AM

Immigration is American -9/18/2014, 9:35 AM

Costs to states not expanding Medicaid -9/17/2014, 10:14 AM

Medicare threats -9/17/2014, 10:12 AM

myTown Calendar

SPOTLIGHT
[var top_story_head]

Water vision

Published on -7/29/2014, 9:48 AM

Printer-friendly version
E-Mail This Story

The 50-Year Vision for the Future of Water in Kansas sounds grand, doesn't it? State water officials are working with stakeholders throughout Kansas to develop a plan that will be presented at a conference in November, then given to the Legislature next session. Hundreds of meetings have taken place with thousands of interested individuals in hopes of offering the proper balance between sustainability and maintaining a strong economy.

That we need such conversations is without question. The Ogallala Aquifer, the underground engine powering agricultural endeavors in the western half of the state, is being depleted at an alarming rate. If current practices remain unchanged, the aquifer reportedly will be 70-percent depleted in 50 years.

Even with the best of intentions, however, the ideas presented thus far have been somewhat timid. Included in the 170-some action items in draft form are a suggestion to reduce individual water consumption 20 percent by 2035, a 20-percent decrease in water pumped from the aquifer by 2065, increasing enforcement for overpumping, closing overappropriated areas, and modifying the state's priority system of first-in-time, first-in-right in areas with limited recharge. There also are calls for education efforts and exploring the transfer of waters from other areas such as the Missouri River.

It would be difficult to find a more useless suggestion than the 20-percent decrease in water pumped from the Ogallala by the year 2065. That would be one year after the aquifer is 70-percent depleted -- and many knowledgable people consider that timeline extremely optimistic.

Yet to surface in the plan is a state directive for irrigators to stop using so much water. Irrigators account for more than 90 percent of the state's total water usage on an annual basis.

But they also account for a healthy percentage of the state's gross domestic product. And Kansas Agriculture Secretary Jackie McClaskey has said the plan seeks to "balance conservation with economic growth."

McClaskey, Kansas Water Office Director Tracy Streeter and others are hoping that balance is found during the public input portion, and the resulting plan is driven by volunteer efforts from the ground up.

We find it hard to believe that will happen.

Not when it was the state that began treating water rights as private property instead of a common good. Not when irrigators themselves are running the irrigation and groundwater districts. Not when short-term gains of individuals are pitted against long-term sustainability for all. Not when federal policies subsidize the planting of water-intensive crops in near-desert conditions. Not when drought exacerbates the protectionist tendencies of those with wells.

We're not suggesting irrigators should shoulder the burden of devising a solution -- or even that they're the bad guys. During the past 70 years, they've simply responded to state and federal laws that encouraged the aquifer's over-development.

It is time to stop postponing the inevitable.

"The assumption is we will continue to use the Ogallala but not make major changes in what we're doing out there," said Mary Fund, program director of the Kansas Rural Center in Whiting. "In that sense, the 50-year vision gets us out 50 years. We're just kicking the can down the road on water out there."

Wholesale irrigation reductions will not happen without prompt -- and forcible -- action from the state. What water is left in the Ogallala Aquifer belongs to the people of Kansas, not merely to those pulling it up to the surface. Lawmakers will need to decide concrete steps, then pass them into law.

We are beyond the point of volunteer reductions, visions and navel-gazing. The future of Kansas is at stake.

Editorial by Patrick Lowry

plowry@dailynews.net

digg delicious facebook stumbleupon google Newsvine
More News and Photos

Associated Press Videos

AP Breaking News
AP Nation-World News

View this site in another language.