Dr. Dan discusses water at KFB

Hi there folks, welcome to AG am in Kansas, I am Dr. Dan Thomson from Kansas State University and this morning we are out at Kansas Farm Bureau and we have a special set of guests to discuss the water issues here with agriculture in the state of Kansas. We have Joe Newland from Neodesha, we have Rich Felts from Liberty and we have Jeff Grossenbacher from Bern, Kansas. Guys welcome to the show. (Group) Thank you. (Dan) I appreciate all that you do, not only for Kansas agriculture but also for Kansas State University and being on the show this morning to discuss a very important issue- water. The first thing we think of when we think about water, is that this is just a western Kansas issue, but really it’s a statewide issue. So, let’s kind of kick start things off by just kind of… your initial thoughts or some of the thoughts that are surrounding this water shortage issue, and some of the things as we move forward. Jeff… (Jeff) Well it is statewide issue; it’s not just southwest Kansas. The dredging issue on the reservoirs on the eastern third of the state is critical because 51 percent of our population depends on those for water whether they realize it or not. And even the northeast corner where I’m from, we have water issues. Our profile is only about two foot right now and so we are going to need some very timely rains to raise a crop this year. And there’s an Aqueduct Study Committee right now that would take water out of the Missouri to go to western Kansas. We are watching that issue. There is a whole variance of issues that are critical to the state of Kansas and the economy. (Dan) Rich. (Rich) Well, Dan I think one thing about water is that everybody takes it for granted. Particularly the majority of our population, as long as the turn on the spigot and water comes out. (Dan) You bet. (Rich) We’ve got water. And that is true with so many things we face, we don’t realize there’s a shortage until we don’t have any. It appears like the Governor and trying to come up with this 50 Year Water Vision, has at least brought people’s head out of the sand. a little bit to address some water issues, not just in western Kansas, but also in eastern Kansas. To maintain the infrastructure that we have there, we’ve got to have a reliable source and I don’t think they every envisioned that as we built our reservoir system, that they would be compromised as quickly as they have been. (Dan) Right. (Joe) Well I have to agree and all with Richie and Jeff that water is our most valuable commodity that we have besides air. So what do we do and all to conserve that? You know western Kansas has worked for years on their conservation and we are doing the same on the eastern side and so we need to protect our water. The dredging of the reservoirs like Jeff mentioned is probably the most critical that we have because of the age of our reservoirs now, so we need to upgrade and try to make the best use of what we have right now. (Dan) We’re going to take a break but when we come back from break we will get a little more into the details and some of the things that are going on, as far as water conservation here in Kansas. I appreciate the three of you taking time to be here. And thank you for watching AG am. More after the break.

(Dan) Hi there folks, welcome back to AG am in Kansas. We are at the Kansas Farm Bureau today. And my guests are Jeff Grossenbacher from Bern, Rich Felts from Liberty, Kansas, and Joe Newland from Neodesha. And we’re discussing the water issues and Jeff you are sitting on the Aqueduct Committee. (Jeff) Yes I am. (Dan) And I think it’s important that we jump into some of the boots on the ground issues that we are seeing. (Jeff) OK. Corps of Engineers did a 1982 study to put an aqueduct from the Missouri to southwest Kansas. The current committee has been reformed to try to put some new dollar figures to what that would cost to do. Currently, an engineering firm has been hired to do so. It’s a 360-mile long aqueduct that would go from northeast Kansas to southwest Kansas. We have met twice. We’ll have three more meetings and we’re supposed to give a report to the Legislature next year. So, we’ll see what that brings. It’s a huge undertaking. And there is a lot more rules and regulations from EPA, endangered species, etc., etc., that weren’t around in 1982. So we’ll see what the cost will be. (Dan) So, is this going to be a at this point, and maybe they don’t know, but is this going to be underground or is this going to be a… (Jeff) The 1982 study was an open aqueduct…ditch. (Dan) OK. (Jeff) …type thing, it would only go underground to certain rivers or
things like that to go through those. There are other alternatives and I think we will probably address those before we give our report. (Dan) So maybe something like what we’ve seen out in Arizona and something of that nature. But my goodness, that’s a… (Jeff) Well, the cost of water, what value we put on water they make it completely unfeasible, from the time it would get to southwest Kansas. (Dan) And when we start to look at the easements… (Jeff) Yeah. (Dan) And the track of 300 and some miles going northeast to southwest. (Jeff) Yes, the causes and effects that it would cause to infrastructure roads, bridges, rivers, farms, the list goes on and on. It’s just almost mind-boggling. (Dan) I appreciate the update on
something like that. I think it really speaks to the level of the issue.
(Jeff) Yes. (Dan) And where we’re at. And when we’re seeing dust fly in the air in eastern Kansas and places where we don’t normally see dust fly, it’s important. (Jeff) Right. (Dan) It’ important. We’re going to take a break. When we come back we are going to continue our discussion on water with our gentlemen friends from the Kansas Farm Bureau and guys, thanks for being here, thanks for spending time and more importantly thanks for being servant leaders for Kansas agriculture. I appreciate it very much. Thank you for watching AG am, we’ll be back after the break.

(Dan) Hi there folks, welcome back to AG am in Kansas. And we’re having a discussion here at the Kansas Farm Bureau today about water and water in the state of Kansas, and it’s an issue that is not going to go away. It is an issue that is relative to agriculture and everybody that drinks water in the state of Kansas. And Joe Newland from Neodesha, you have spent some time looking at what’s coming down the pipe with the waters of the U.S. and some of the EPA potential regulations that we probably need to get on top of before something like this gets out of hand. (Joe) Well, you’re exactly  right. As you know right now the EPA has decided to formally propose a new regulation and that would create more problems, you know for the U.S. farmer and so right now we’re asking everybody that can to write our Congress and also that we can derail this attempt to further regulate the waters of the U.S. Currently we have 219 Congressman that have signed on and alter this proposal. And there’s 218 needed to pass this. So, I think we’re taking the right step in the right direction and all to help get this taken care of. (Dan) Give me a little bit of background on some of the things that are being proposed. (Joe) Well, anything that’s regulated by the government always causes problems. Well, this new regulation could mean, you know that they could regulate any puddle of water, any water in the ditch, anything that would temporarily hold water, they could regulate. And they call it navigable. In 1972 that’s when the waters of the U.S. were originally set up. And that was to control some of the large bodies of water. Well, now they’re trying to more regulate any types of water. And you know, when government wants to control anything they want to take all. And that’s kind of what we’re afraid of. (Dan) It’s further reaching and when you get further reach without having the adequate number of people or the adequate insight as to why you are doing it, it leads to malpractice and things that don’t work well for feeding America. (Joe) That’s exactly right. And you know when you are further regulated, then how is going to be possible to do our normal farming practices? We’re very conservative and we try to do the best that we can with what we have. We do not want to contaminate our streams. We have to drink the water the same as anybody in town. (Dan) More so. (Joe) More so. And so farmer is the best friend that we have in conserving and taking care of our waters and so we have government systems set up in place already with the Soil Conservation. I tend to believe that’s the direction we need to look at instead of more regulation. (Dan) Wow. I tend to agree with you. And I appreciate your time. Folks get a hold of your Congressman; get a hold of your Senator, help repeal this proposed bill from EPA. And when we come back we’re going to talk with Rich Felts a little bit about what Kansas Farm Bureau is doing to lead this effort on water. You’re watching AG am in Kansas and were sure glad you joined us.

(Dan) Hi there folks, welcome back to AG am in Kansas. And this morning we’re out at Kansas Farm Bureau. We’re talking about some serious issues, not only involving the state of Kansas and agriculture but if you drink water in the state of Kansas. And Rich Felts from Liberty, Kansas, here has been working extensively for the Kansas Farm Bureau on many different issues, but water is one of them. And so we can kind of follow up a little bit here on Joe’s thing and talk a little bit about the water issue. (Rich) Yeah, touch on that a little bit Dan. And yes, Kansas Farm Bureau along with American Farm Bureau is very, very active in trying to get some reality to the regulations that EPA is coming out toward that. Basically being done in Farm Bureau as far as Action Alerts to notify EPA and our Legislators just how to take action. But I would like to switch gears here as we talk about water and address what’s going on in the state of Kansas. (Dan) You bet. (Rich) And the Governor and his 50-Year Water Vision that has really brought to light water issues that we have in the state that I think many of us have taken for granted. The irrigators in western Kansas, yes, they know the water table is declining but we talk, we don’t do. Eastern Kansas we’ve let the sediment develop in the reservoirs and you know, we’ve still got water but I think with his vision, has got everybody on page that we’ve got to do something. Kansas Farm Bureau is no exception to that. We do represent agriculture in this state. And our organization has been very proactive in trying to solicit our membership in many ways to get inputs as to what a vision should be from our ag group. We’ve had district meetings, our committee meetings, our statewide committees have addressed this issue. And our state board then will be finalizing a vision from Kansas Farm Bureau that we will be presenting to the Governor. (Dan) That’s awesome and you know I have been fortunate enough to spend a lot of time on the ground with different districts and different counties of Kansas Farm Bureau and it really is a grassroots effort to bring solutions from the field to the bureaucrats, rather than the top down type of approach. And I commend you all for that, for getting your members involved. That you know when you take a look at it, it’s an issue that is imperative today because of the drought situation, but it’s really an issue that’s imperative forever, if we want to hand the farm down to our children and grandchildren and keep our heritage alive. (Rich) There’s no question. When we look at the generational aspect of it, are we going to prosper for today’s generation, at the sacrifice of future generations or do we want to preserve? But we have a lot of issues that can be addressed in addition to water. There’s all type of conservation, technology, methods that can be incorporated in to this. So, it’s not just all about water itself, a lot of other things need to be incorporated into this. (Dan) It’s sustainability. It’s our future. And you guys are doing about as much as anybody around. You know there’s a lot of groups that like we said earlier talk about it, but you all are walking the walk. (Rich) I can assure you our organization has given everybody within our organization the opportunity to have their say. (Dan) Appreciate you looking out for all of us, because it’s an important issue. I think we’re going to take a break. When we come back, we’ll do a little bit of a wrap up and a little bit of a free for all here on water, and do some wrapping up. You’re watching AG am in Kansas, we’re sure glad that you joined us.

(Dan) Hi there folks, welcome back to AG am in Kansas. We’re having a great discussion on a very serious topic and one that is vitally important to Kansas agriculture and that’s water. And Jeff, when we talk about it, we’re going to do a short bit here each of us hitting a topic. What’s your bullet point when you say what’s going on and what’s the situation? (Jeff) Well, I think all of Kansas needs to realize that we’re in this together for the economy of Kansas and we need to dredge reservoirs. We’re looking at the possibility of building an aqueduct, that’s just a study. But we can’t turn it into an eastern Kansas-western Kansas fight, we have to be in this together, because we need all of the economy of Kansas for us to remain viable. So we need to help each other out on whatever needs to be done to help Kansas. And I think that is an important thing for all of us to remember as we look at the Governor’s vision, the Ogallala, etc., we all need it. Just don’t think about your own little area. (Dan) Everybody’s in it together in the state. Joe. (Joe) Well, that’s correct and we need to visit with our neighbors and let them know what’s going on, especially with new government regulations possibly coming down the pike. Visit with your Congressman and let them know how you feel and how you operate your own operation daily, that we can be better served by ourselves and our
neighbors and doing the job here and not the Federal government. (Dan)Absolutely, I couldn’t agree more. And Rich, we are going to give you the last word here. But what are some of the things that are on your mind when it comes down to water? (Rich) Well, I think when we look at the population in general, we just have to emphasize the value of water. We take the value of water for granted. Regardless where we’re at, how we utilize water, whether we’re an irrigator or whether we’re a home user, we don’t even think about what the actual cost of water is. And I think the educational process for most of the population is going to be the biggest hurdle. That if money has to be a media for how we address some of these issues, people have to understand what they are actually trying to do to preserve the water supply in this state. (Dan) Gentlemen again, thanks for your servant leadership to Kansas agriculture. Thanks for being on the show and thanks for tackling such an important issue. Kansas Farm Bureau is not only a friend to Kansas farming and ranching but it’s a friend to all Kansans. I just appreciate everything that you all do. (Group) Thank you for having us Dan. (Dan) Thank you for watching AGam in Kansas. We enjoyed the show today. Thanks for being here. Take care.

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