|
|
|
|
The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • LV Times columnist: Betting on diversion concerning Kansas water security

    • email print
      Comment
  • If you have been following what I have been saying about water security in Kansas, you know I have been recommending very wide buffers on each tributary leading to reservoirs in Kansas.
    This would be a method to help reduce erosion into the reservoirs since they are projected to be 40 percent full of sediment in 50 years, and will have that much less storage capacity for drinking water and flood control as well as all of the other uses for water.
    I even wrote a draft for a resolution for our Kansas Wildlife Federation that recommended a 500-feet wide buffer of prairie on each side of each primary, secondary, and tertiary tributary. OK, it turns out those numbers are a bit excessive and one board member says the numbers would result in about 40 percent of the land in Kansas being removed from agriculture.
    On the other hand, Gov. Sam Brownback has said, "Water and the Kansas economy are directly linked. Water is a finite resource and without further planning and action we will no longer be able to meet our state's current needs, let alone growth."
    The 50-Year Water Visioning Team stated, "He's right. The writing is on the wall and if we don's act today, our future is bleak."
    Another KWF board member who works with landowners to encourage them to create stream bank buffers says she patted herself on the back when she got one of her constituents to agree to a 60-100-feet buffer, implying to me that Kansas landowners are not lining up to save our reservoirs if it means they have to give up farm ground.
    After all, who is going to be alive 50 years from now? Certainly not any of the older landowners. So, why worry about water security for future Kansans? That's their problem.
    My cynical side says the rain is not going to increase and recharge the Ogallala Aquifer and landowners are not going to give up much land for buffers unless they are paid handsomely for it, and dredging all of the reservoirs is going to cost billions of dollars to Kansans, so that does not leave many options open to discuss.
    Well, the easiest way out is going to be to divert some of the Missouri River across Kansas. It will create thousands of jobs and is a lot easier than convincing land owners to give up irrigation and to convert stream bank land to prairie buffers.
    Presently, I believe that the Corps is studying all of the uses for the Missouri and determining allocations for each use such as fracking, irrigation, drinking and municipal uses, recreation, T&E species protection, industrial, and navigation.  Once each allocation of quantity is determined we will know how much is excess and that excess will be available to be diverted across Kansas.
    Page 2 of 2 - The beauty of the allocation study will be that no other user will have a legal standing to argue against diversion of the excess. I am not a betting man, but my cynical side says that in the short term that we will choose to divert Missouri River water across Kansas rather than to make it rain more and to convert stream bank land to prairie. One of the questions will be, where will that diversion begin? The oldest studies from back in the 1960s, I believe, indicate that it will be from near White Cloud.
    I wonder if Las Vegas has taken book on these prospects because I think that you would be smart to bet on a river diversion rather than on the success of stream bank buffers and increased rainfall as the answers to Kansas water security.

        calendar