Earl Lewis – Kansas Water Office

(Conrad) Good morning and welcome to Farm Factor on AGam in Kansas. I’m your host Conrad Kabus. Today we have a special episode focusing on the future of water in our state. Take a look. In October of 2013, Governor Brownback issued a call to action to his administration to develop a 50-Year water Vision for the Future of Water in Kansas. It is a fact that the Ogallala Aquifer is declining faster than it is recharging. Reservoirs which are critical water storage structures for much of our state are filling with sediment. At this rate, with no changes in the next 50 years, the Ogallala will be 70 percent depleted and our reservoirs will be 40 percent filled with sediment. After the first draft made revisions, they were brought to the annual Governor’s Conference on the Future of Water in Kansas, which was held Nov. 12th through the 13th at the Hilton Garden Inn and Conference Center in Manhattan, Kansas. (Earl) I’m Earl Lewis the Assistant Director at the Kansas Water Office. We’re here at the 3rd annual Governor’s Conference on the Water and the Future of Kansas. Conference. Today we’ll be unveiling the second draft of of the Governor’s vision for water supply in Kansas and getting feedback. We’ve got about 650 folks that are gonna be here today from all walks of life in Kansas and really are interested in meeting with folks and getting their feedback and comments on things they hear today. (Conrad) The conference highlighted the latest policy and research development of water issues in Kansas. The conference brings together scientists, water managers, state and federal officials and citizens who share an interest in Kansas water resources. A large focus was sharing the outcomes of the past year to address the Governor’s 2013 Call to Action to develop a long term vision for our state’s future water supply. (Earl) Kansas, I think in general has a really good water system. We’ve been very proactive as a state both on the quantity and the quality side. We’ve got a very well established set of laws, regulations and a good, knowledgeable regulated public that understands how we do things in Kansas and how we interact with our producers, with our citizens. And we’ve made a lot of progress over the last decade really in reducing water use and becoming much more efficient in how we use water, less water waste. And on the water quality side, we’ve seen improvements in a number of our streams that are now in better shape than they were. And we’re making a lot of progress primarily working with folks, rather than trying to be heavy handed. Last year at this conference the Governor charged us with going out and developing a vision for water supply and the future of Kansas, primarily focused on Ogallala in the west and reservoir sedimentation in the east. And we’ve had the opportunity with a group of us from the Department of Agriculture, from Kansas Water Office to go around the state over the last year and talk with more than 10,000 different citizens at over 200 events. And we’ve gotten a lot of feedback, as you might imagine on all aspects of water. And so in July we issued or released the first draft for that vision and went around again and got a lot of feedback from folks, a lot of good comments and we tried to take those to heart and make some changes to the document. What’s being released today is the second draft. We think it’s much further along. We certainly hope that folks will see that we’ve listened to a lot of their comments. Obviously when you’re talking 10,000 folks, it’s tough to balance everybody’s comments, but we’ve certainly tried to listen to the ones that we hear the most and make sure that we’re representing those comments. This is not the end of the line. Certainly folks can continue to provide comments, review the document. It will be released today on the Kansas Water Office website which is www.kwo.org. And you can go on line and download that copy and email us, call us, let us know what your comments are, where you think we’ve hit the mark and where you think we need to do some more work.

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