Will Boyer – Water Quality

(Will) Hi my name is Will Boyer, I’m and Extension Watershed Specialist for K-State Research and Extension. My job involves water quality and mainly working with livestock producers. I get out a lot and help them identify potential concerns related with water quality and help them come up with solutions. One of the aspects that I work in is providing water sources to livestock and that’s what I’m speaking about here today in Blaine. And what I do is work with people that may have water sources like streams and ponds and help them identify ways to improve their livestock use of that water but also to protect the water for the quality of the livestock as well as people downstream. That’s the main area that I work in related to range land and grass land management. We look at ways to provide an adequate amount of water for the livestock and try to locate it in ways that the livestock will better utilize the grass and forages that their grazing and even leave an adequate amount of vegetation to provide a filter for the areas where the water drains down into streams and ponds. And we find that if… like if there is a pasture with a stream in it, if there’s a stream in the pasture and you can provide an alternate source of water for the animals to drink from they’ll greatly reduce the amount of time they spend around that stream because they don’t need to use it for water. And that results in real measurable improvements in water quality, especially two of the main pollutants that we’re worried about in Kansas, phosphorus and sediment. Sediment being the pollutant that fills up our reservoirs, which our water supply reservoirs for the drinking water and recreational waters of the state. And then also safety concerns both for humans and for the livestock, is phosphorus getting into those water supply reservoirs which can lead to blooms of blue-green algae, which can be toxic to the touch or if the water’s drank. We try to help livestock producers help themselves and be efficient and productive and at the same time do things that are beneficial for water quality. My job is funded through U.S. EPA and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. But the K-State Research and Extension branch helps to give us some validity with the livestock producers in the state. Our first point of contact across the state for cow producers in the state is our county extension offices. So, most people are familiar with the county extension offices and there’s five of us in the state that do the job that I do as Extension Watershed Specialist. For the most part in the eastern two thirds of the state or maybe even the eastern half of the state just because that’s where a lot of the surface water is and the surface water pollution concerns. Personally I cover the northeast part of the state and we have a watershed specialist in the southeast and one that is assigned to the Flint Hills area and then two others that actually coordinate a program that’s called WRAPS, which is basically the funding mechanism for our positions plus some cost assistance money for the ag producers. WRAPS stands for Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy. And that’s the funding mechanism to pass money, both from EPA down to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. Ad also the State Water Plan contributes some money to that program.

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