Link to KansasPrairie.net

11/12/2010

3 INCHES OF RAIN…AND MORE COMING THIS WAY…

Filed under: prairie musings, water supply — Peg Britton @ 9:21 am

9/21/2010

THERE GOES OUR WATER…AND YOU CAN PLACE THE BLAME ON SEBELIUS AND JOE HARKINS AND OUR OWN INEPTITUDE

Filed under: political musings, water supply — Peg Britton @ 8:23 am

For years, I’ve been talking about what is happening, or going to happen, to our water in western Kansas.  Who gives a flip about small rural Kansas towns like Ellsworth?  Who in Ellsworth is really paying attention ?  Who in Ellsworth is doing anything about it ?  No one is looking after Ellsworth County. No one.

A hearing by the Kansas Water Office will be held at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 28th at the community center in Assaria.  The Kansas Water Authority plans this public hearing to draft a policy determining who will be able to access the water in Kanopolis Reservoir and how much water will be released from the Reservoir.

Citizens who wish to speak have been asked to notify the Water Authority at least seven days before the hearing.  That means today.  The article announcing the meeting appeared this morning in the Wichita Eagle…otherwise, you can learn about it by digging it out of  the water office bulletin board or website.  How would one know to do that?  These are sneaky state officials.  They like it best when no one shows up for their meetings.

The following proposed policy is posted on the Kansas Water Office website:

5. Identify options to meet water use needs in the area based on results of models and other pertinent data.
Gathering information to complete task.

This may include Kanopolis Lake Regulation Manual/river system operation changes.  May include Wilson as source of water supply.  Reservoir Sustainability Vol. II includes 2 reservoir operational options.  Many options discussed with stakeholder representatives summer 2009.

 Read more here.

This has all gone just as the water watch dogs predicted years ago.  The city officials of Hays and Russell are marching toward Wilson Lake water now that they’ve drained Cedar Bluff…the reservoir has been in steady decline since 1998. They are also marching toward Kanopolis as their backup for the time when Wilson dries up, if Salina and McPherson don’t drain Kanopolis first.

These are mighty forces…Hays, Russell, Salina, McPherson out there fighting for their future to maintain a water supply for their communities.  WHERE IS SOMEONE FROM ELLSWORTH?  WHERE ARE THE ELLSWORTH CITY/COUNTY OFFICIALS.  Other than Linda Denning and me who have attended these meetings for eons, the one or two other people who attend these meetings  from Ellsworth are there for self-serving purposes.

WTF is up with the Kansas Water Office?   Instead of PROTECTING our water, they are just selling out to the highest bidders, and the dependent communities be damned.

There is good reason to hate Kathleen Sebelius and Joe Harkins  for setting up this program as soon as she took office in 2003.  Joe Harkins was one of her largest political contributors. Joseph F. Harkins, Acting Director, Kansas Water Office, has reinvented the Kansas Water Office to sell water to the highest bidder, not to protect it for future use.

When you see some efforts at conservation and limited growth, then maybe there will also be signs that people are getting the message.  Now you know why so many opposed the water guzzling ethanol plant they built in Russell that is now going the way of other ethanol plants in the US and looking for government bailouts. Hays and Russell will drain the system until our taps run dry in Ellsworth.

Remember what the Poppers predicted about the Great Plains?  We’re marching closer and closer to a Buffalo Commons.  If the state water office can do this to WaKeeney and drain the water from Cedar Bluff, they can do it to us. There is no doubt about that.

Thanks for tuning in…

8/4/2009

WATCH THE WATER IN WILSON LAKE…

Filed under: prairie musings, water supply — Peg Britton @ 1:31 pm

The Army Corps of Engineers and the Kansas Water Office will now be able to conduct more studies about using Wilson Lake as a water source.  A current planning study is expected to wrap up in August, but additional funding has been allocated for another study at the 9,000-acre lake in central Kansas. The study could take up to three years to complete.

Watch what is going on here as Hays, Russell and Salina could grab all the water and leave Ellsworth high and dry.

2/11/2009

WARNING…WARNING…WARNING…WARNING…THERE GOES OUR WATER…

Filed under: prairie musings, water supply, print news — Peg Britton @ 3:57 pm

By MIKE CORN

mcorn@dailynews.net

A preliminary assessment of what Wilson Lake might look like if its water is tapped for municipal and industrial uses will be offered at a meeting later this month.

The cities of Hays and Russell both have targeted the lake as a long-term source of water. Both communities currently rely on water primarily from the Smoky Hill River and Big Creek.

The meeting, sponsored by the Kansas Water Office and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, is set for 4:30 to 7 p.m. Feb. 25 at the Dole-Specter Conference Center in the AmericInn motel.

The meeting is designed to offer an early look at what the lake might look like if water is withdrawn, said Kansas Water Office director Tracy Streeter. The meeting also is to solicit comments on what those changes might be. An earlier review of the lake suggested it could provide nearly 30 million gallons of water daily during the next 30 years.

Since then, a preliminary environmental study has been completed that includes a hydrologic model simulating what the lake will look like under two scenarios: at its current designed operating level and at a level 2 feet higher.
The model, put together by Burns and McDonnell consulting engineers, is the first phase of a study to determine how much water can be withdrawn from the lake. Currently, the work is being paid for jointly by KWO and the U.S. Corps of Engineers.

“This is really early in the process,” Streeter said.

Based on comments made at the Feb. 25 meeting, or submitted in writing, findings and recommendations of the study are expected to be made later this year.

Anything beyond what already has been done likely will require federal money for the corps to pay for research, he said.

Originally built to provide flood control and irrigation, Wilson generally has never been considered as a source of water because of its high salinity. That high salinity content also prompted federal water agencies to abandon irrigation prospects.

But now that some water treatment techniques, such as reverse osmosis, are considered cost effective, the lake was identified as a potential source.

Generally, Wilson has maintained stable water levels and is slightly above its designed operating level.

Wilson Lake contains nearly 9,000 acres of water and is surrounded by 13,000 acres of land. The corps manages the lake as well as three of the five campgrounds.

 Anyone unable to attend can send written comments, but they must arrive by March 13. Comments can be sent to Christina Ostrander, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Kansas City District, 601 E. 12th, Room 843, Kansas City, MO 64106-2896, or by e-mail to christina.ostrander@usace.army.mil.

The City of Ellsworth and every other community in the county ought to be well represented at this meeting.  Our two school districts and prison ought to have representatives at this meeting…and Cashco and Great Plains and the Medical Center.

Look what Hays has done to Cedar Bluff and they have their eyes on every drop of water they can wrangle out of this part of the country. Russell will suck up all they can.  And remember as well, Salina to the east has eyes on Kanopolis Lake water, one of our sources of water. We’re sandwiched in between these huge water users and you can bet they will be well represented.  If we aren’t first to the trough, we’ll be left out.

If we are to survive as a community/county, we must preserve our future water rights. To do nothing in this situation, might be catastrophic in days to come.

7/23/2007

WHEN YOU BUY ETHANOL, YOU ARE PAYING TWICE FOR IT…

Filed under: prairie musings, energy, water supply, print news — Peg Britton @ 5:58 pm

This is a blog I wrote in March. Following it is an editorial that appeared today in the Salina Journal written by editor Tom Bell. There are lots of similarities. Please take the time to read both, if you would please. Your understanding of this issue is vital to the understanding what our Kansas government officials are doing to our water supply by encouraging this industry and how we are paying twice for the product.

3/12/2007
WHY WOULD ANYONE ENCOURAGE ETHANOL PRODUCTION IN KANSAS AND WHY WOULD ANY CONSERVATIONIST WANT TO USE IT?
Filed under: energy, political musings, water supply — Peg Britton @ 4:19 pm

Things you need to think about:

The Great Plains Ogallala Aquifer is the largest underground reservoir in the U.S. and one of the largest on the planet. It once held as much water as Lake Huron. It could cease to be a water source in another generation.

Once the Ogallala is drawn down beyond repair…and we are nearing that point…the exodus from America’s rural heartland shifts from second to third gear.

Most of Kansas’ water – or 86% of it – is used west of Salina.
Almost all of that western Kansas water use, or 93 %, is used for irrigation.

Almost all ground water in KS is found in an aquifer, in porous rock. Eastern KS has hardly any ground water, but has a lot of surface water. Western KS has ground water but very little surface water.

When the water level in the aquifer lowers below the stream bed, there is no water to recharge the flow.

The decline rate of water in the aquifer is in feet while the recharge rate is in inches. The Ogallala is a non-renewable resource.

In some places the water has run out. In others we have several years left before it runs out. Irrigators are using tomorrow’s water, and it’s about gone.

Irrigation is seen as a temporary prosperity for some that will lead to environmental poverty for most.

Between south Salina and Assaria, only a few miles south of Salina, there are 10 potential irrigation sites and there are six pumps on those sites that would use as much water per minute as the city of Salina uses per minute. 47,000 people live in Salina and use on average 126 gallons of water each day, per person. Then there are factories, golf courses, etc. You get the idea.

The depletion of ground water is what causes rivers to go dry. Ground water is water beneath the earth’s surface, often between saturated soil and rock that supplies wells and springs. Ground water is a non-renewable resource.

For a farmer who lost 2 feet of water in his a well last year, it would take 48 years to replace that water.

Irrigators are using most of the water. Government payments are encouraging farmers to use water by the acre feet. Our tax dollars. Stop the payments and farmers will change their operations. New farming techniques will emerge. They have made plenty of profit from the use of our water.

It takes five gallons of water to turn 21 pounds of corn into one gallon of ethanol. Kansas producers irrigate 72% of their corn. It takes 1400 gallons of water to irrigate 21 pounds of corn for one gallon of gas. So, 1405 gallons of water are pumped out of rivers and wells in Kansas to make 1 gallon of ethanol. We are growing corn today using our grand children’s water.

The price of corn has risen because of this to a point Mexico has implemented tortilla price controls because of public outcry over the price of corn. Beef, poultry, pork, chicken and egg producers are facing soaring corn prices. Catholic Relief Services intend to deliver 20% fewer tons of food to Africa and South America because of corn prices. Check the price of a box of corn flakes the next time you go to the store.

Eight dry mill ethanol plants are currently in operation in Kansas with a capacity of over 215 million gallons. Other potential plants are in various stages of planning and construction in many Kansas communities. Ethanol production in Kansas could quadruple in the next two to three years

Kansas government officials and politicians are encouraging the construction of ethanol plants in Kansas.

Can anyone explain to my why they are doing this when facts demonstrate we are quickly running out of water? It is counter-productive to use ethanol because of all the water and fuel that are required for the production of corn.
**************************************

The Salina Journal editorial, July 23, 2007 by Tom Bell, editor.
Ethanol is a flawed solution

Ethanol has done wonders for ag-based communities where farmers grow corn. The crop is used to make ethanol, and demand for that fuel is on the rise, thanks to government mandates, tax incentives and to the notion that ethanol production will reduce America’s reliance on foreign oil.

However, growing demand for corn has some negative consequences.

Let’s get one thing out of the way: We don’t begrudge farmers the increased income. We thank heavens whenever producers get relief from poor prices, drought, hail, floods, high wind, weeds, plant disease, and ever-rising costs for fertilizer, fuel, parts and equipment.

But consumers need to understand the flip side. Consider the story on the front page of Thursday’s Journal. It reports that higher prices for milk and dairy products are due to higher corn prices. That’s the same reason consumers pay more for beef and other protein sources fed with corn.

Higher consumer prices are not the only problem with ethanol production. Growing corn demands vast quantities of water. Most of the corn grown in Kansas is irrigated, which contributes to declining water tables and dry riverbeds.

As reported earlier in the Journal by Duane Schrag, it takes about 1,400 gallons of water to grow the 21 pounds of corn necessary to produce a gallon of ethanol, and another 5 gallons of water to process the corn at ethanol plants. An ethanol plant that produces 100 million gallons a year requires about 1.5 million gallons of water each day. That is the size of plants under consideration in Russell and Concordia.

Another problem pops up once the ethanol is blended and at the pump. By increasing our reliance on ethanol, Americans avoid the hard task of conservation, which by far is the best way to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

Apparently our government would rather push ethanol then promote conservation. Lawmakers often are influenced by oil companies to keep demand higher. Additionally, greater fuel sales mean more tax revenue. Kansans pay 25 cents per gallon in state taxes, which generated $30.9 million for the state treasury last year. We pay another 18.4 cents per gallon in federal taxes, which annually pours more than $80 billion into Washington.

Products besides corn can produce ethanol. Plants are under consideration that will use switchgrass instead of food products. Development is a lengthy process and corn-based fuel will be with us for a long time. Consumers will continue to pay double for ethanol, once at the pump and again in the grocery store.

Conservation is the best way to offset those extra expenses.

– Tom Bell

Editor & Publisher

6/11/2007

KANOPOLIS LAKE IS 18 FEET HIGHER THAN THIS TIME LAST YEAR.

Filed under: water supply — Peg Britton @ 5:25 pm

Kanopolis Lake has more than three times the water it did this time last year. The lake level is at 1,477 feet, more than 18 feet higher than a year ago. The Smoky Hill River is expected to flow like a river should for at least another month, regardless of rainfall.

May was the wettest month in about 55 years. It helped, but it didn’t solve any of our long-term water shortage problems.

Last year, the Smoky Hill River all but dried up before it reached Salina.  Part of that was due to irrigater’s pumping between the lake and Salina. Even when they stopped pumping half the water was lost in transit.

See today’s article in the Salina Journal by Duane Schrag for details.

4/6/2007

IN THE DRY WEST, USING WATER MEANS USING IT UP. WHEN THE WATER RUNS OUT, SO DOES FARMING, FISHING, AND WILDERNESS

Filed under: prairie musings, water supply — Peg Britton @ 10:33 am

Josh Rosenau has an excellent post on water from the New York Times.  It summarizes the challenges facing most of Western US.

“The western two-thirds of Kansas fall beyond that line, and the aquifers under western Kansas are running dry as quickly as the Colorado river is, and the state of western water law only make that worse.”

Read the entire article.

3/16/2007

SVATY, ELLIS COUNTY WIND FARM, U.S. AIR FORCE RECRUIT AND ST. PAT’S DAY

Filed under: prairie musings, family, friends, political musings, water supply, Ellsworth — Peg Britton @ 2:32 pm

My granddaughter wrote: “Just because you move to Texas does not make you a Texan. After all, if a cat had kittens and moved them to the oven, that wouldn’t make them biscuits.”

Caleb Svaty qualified for the national NAIA outdoor track meet when he completed at Bethel College last week with a throw of 156 feet. He placed 10th in the National Indoor Meet in Tennessee. The next thing we know, he’ll be heading to the Olympics. Now wouldn’t that be sumpin’?

Rumor has it that both Hays and Russell are watering their golf courses with potable water. If that’s true, someone should be protesting. They use gray water on the course here. At least they did the last time I checked.

According to the Hays Daily News: In Ellis County under the new wind farm proposal, turbines would be located at least 1,000 feet away from any household, as required by the county’s zoning regulations.

Despite that, the filing said that several landowners who live in the area want “to voluntarily reduce the setback requirement between turbines and their individual homes in order to allow a greater portion of their land to be used for the placement of wind turbines.”

Landowners on whose land the turbines are located on would receive a percentage of the sales of electricity from the turbines. Although it’s unknown how much each landowner would get, earlier discussions suggested the amount might range from $5,000 to $7,000.

I’m cooking corned beef and cabbage for St. Pat’s Day dinner on Sunday. There’s something about cooking cabbage that produces a most discernable odor which is okay if you love cabbage as most of us do. Ringo and the others will run for cover.

We have provided Ringo with all varieties of toys to play with and bones to chew. He’s never liked any of them beyond the exploratory stage. Several months ago, Susie brought him a stuffed squirrel and Ringo just carries it around all the time, guards it and sleeps with it. All along he wanted something soft and cuddly, just like the rest of us. Now it looks more like a wet river rat.

Don’t forget the farm gathering at the American Legion Hall tomorrow.

Tall Boy got his marching orders. He leaves for Air Force Basic Training in San Antonio on July 17th. He’s more than ready. Meantime he’s finishing high school, out for track and helping Mark with construction work.

KU plays Niagara tonight in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Go Hawks!

Last night a big raccoon was on the deck knocking over things and making a lot of racket. Her favorite target is the “Jayhawker” that Jean Schwerdtfeger gave us that her dad made from a shovel and other “farm” parts. We love it, and so does the raccoon. It’s always a favorite target. Today Pat spotted two of her babies in the crotch of the big cottonwood tree behind our house. Usually they are napping during the day time, working up steam to bother me at night. Neighbor Chris Buchholz is a trapper and he’s on his way with his friendly trap. He’s also a new aide trainee at the nursing home in Wilson. Dane was very happy to see him today for the first time. Chris has always been one of our favorites.

Middle grandson Drew is on his way home for spring break. He wants to have dinner at Orozco’s tonight so I’ve been invited to join them. Brit was too, but the KU game is on and it comes first. They’ll have the game on at Orozco’s too, but I guess that isn’t enough. He wants me to return with three hot tamales. Ah! The best of both worlds.

Thanks for stopping by.

3/12/2007

WHY WOULD ANYONE ENCOURAGE ETHANOL PRODUCTION IN KANSAS AND WHY WOULD ANY CONSERVATIONIST WANT TO USE IT?

Filed under: energy, political musings, water supply — Peg Britton @ 4:19 pm

Things you need to think about:

The Great Plains Ogallala Aquifer is the largest underground reservoir in the U.S. and one of the largest on the planet. It once held as much water as Lake Huron. It could cease to be a water source in another generation.

Once the Ogallala is drawn down beyond repair…and we are nearing that point…the exodus from America’s rural heartland shifts from second to third gear.

Most of Kansas’ water – or 86% of it – is used west of Salina.
Almost all of that western Kansas water use, or 93 %, is used for irrigation.

Almost all ground water in KS is found in an aquifer, in porous rock. Eastern KS has hardly any ground water, but has a lot of surface water. Western KS has ground water but very little surface water.

When the water level in the aquifer lowers below the stream bed, there is no water to recharge the flow.

The decline rate of water in the aquifer is in feet while the recharge rate is in inches. The Ogallala is a non-renewable resource.

In some places the water has run out. In others we have several years left before it runs out. Irrigators are using tomorrow’s water, and it’s about gone.

Irrigation is seen as a temporary prosperity for some that will lead to environmental poverty for most.

Between south Salina and Assaria, only a few miles south of Salina, there are 10 potential irrigation sites and there are six pumps on those sites that would use as much water per minute as the city of Salina uses per minute. 47,000 people live in Salina and use on average 126 gallons of water each day, per person. Then there are factories, golf courses, etc. You get the idea.

The depletion of ground water is what causes rivers to go dry. Ground water is water beneath the earth’s surface, often between saturated soil and rock that supplies wells and springs. Ground water is a non-renewable resource.

For a farmer who lost 2 feet of water in his a well last year, it would take 48 years to replace that water.

Irrigators are using most of the water. Government payments are encouraging farmers to use water by the acre feet. Our tax dollars. Stop the payments and farmers will change their operations. New farming techniques will emerge. They have made plenty of profit from the use of our water.

It takes five gallons of water to turn 21 pounds of corn into one gallon of ethanol. Kansas producers irrigate 72% of their corn. It takes 1400 gallons of water to irrigate 21 pounds of corn for one gallon of gas. So, 1405 gallons of water are pumped out of rivers and wells in Kansas to make 1 gallon of ethanol. We are growing corn today using our grand children’s water.

The price of corn has risen because of this to a point Mexico has implemented tortilla price controls because of public outcry over the price of corn. Beef, poultry, pork, chicken and egg producers are facing soaring corn prices. Catholic Relief Services intend to deliver 20% fewer tons of food to Africa and South America because of corn prices. Check the price of a box of corn flakes the next time you go to the store.

Eight dry mill ethanol plants are currently in operation in Kansas with a capacity of over 215 million gallons. Other potential plants are in various stages of planning and construction in many Kansas communities. Ethanol production in Kansas could quadruple in the next two to three years

Kansas government officials and politicians are encouraging the construction of ethanol plants in Kansas.

Can anyone explain to my why they are doing this when facts demonstrate we are quickly running out of water?  It is counter-productive to use ethanol because of all the water and fuel that are required for the production of corn.

3/11/2007

GOINGS ON

Filed under: prairie musings, family, friends, water supply, Wilson Musings — Peg Britton @ 12:00 pm

My shingles vaccine finally came in and I got my shot on Friday. You might want to inquire about it and see if it is right for you.  I couldn’t find a downside except for the cost, $160. There is a substantial positive side to getting one.

Casino night in Wilson was well attended and provided a good time to do a good deed for the town while having fun with friends. The Opera House elevator is a dandy and a perfect fit for Dane.  Now when there is an activity there that he wants to attend, we know who to call who has the key to make it work. Dane won a subscription to the INDY in a drawing and asked Linda to pass it on to Mackenzie.  That was nice.  Karen won a gift certificate from the K-18 Restaurant in Lucas, enough for a couple pieces of pie, that she passed on to me.  It was quite a coincidence that the two top door prizes, a GPS and video camera, were won by the Kaspers, John and Lynn. I think everyone who attended the event had a good time indicated by lots of hoots and hollers and belly laughing.

I’m getting those annoying calls again…for “Peggy Brutton”. “If this is Peggy Brutton, please press 1 for an important message”.  Of course, in order for them to give me my important information, they will first want information from me, right?

I had another call from a slick talker in Hutch who wanted to explain some Medicare information to me and wanted to make an appointment with me right now.  He made it sound like it was a Medicare emergency and I nailed him to the wall.  He worked for an insurance company and wanted to open the door to sell me some.  He was so slick I suppose he fooled some other old folk, but not me. Those folks are dangerous.

Today they are having another water meeting in Salina.  Linda and I are going, as we did to the previous one.  I imagine this one will be very interesting as people are better informed as to the consequences that have emerged.

Brit is resetting our wall clock and replacing the batteries.  In the past it has been a huge, exasperating operation for him. I don’t know why.

I’ll miss the KU-TX game today.  Dern.  Go Hawks!

3/10/2007

ZOOMING WEEKEND

Filed under: prairie musings, family, Dane Britton, water supply, Wilson Musings — Peg Britton @ 8:54 am

Last night a friend and I went to see Zodiac in Salina. We both thought it was a good movie and didn’t get bored through the 2 hour and 45 minute viewing, plus previews. It was out at 11:00 which is way past “find my feathers” time these days and made it midnight before we got home.

I should have known there was a way to speed up the “get to bed process” after a late movie, but since I don’t spend much time out with the owls, it was nothing I’ve seen before. Some guy who appeared to be in his early 50s came to the movie in his ratty old velour bathrobe, just above the knees length, and sloppy mule-style house slippers. Maybe that’s the in way to dress when attending the 8:00 movie. He even had a woman with him and they walked around like it was the normal thing to do. Maybe it’s the ubercool new look.

This morning the Dorrance folk are having a fund-raiser pancake feed for their museum so we’re heading that way. Afterwards, I’m going to spend some time with Dane to see if his CPAP machine has filters in it and is working properly. He had a “bout” with one of the aides the other night when his mask came off. She got very upset with him that it was off and insisted it has to be on when he slept as he needed the “oxygen”. He explained the mechanics of how it worked and then asked her to point out where the oxygen tank was. She said it was “built in”. Then the nurse backed her up. It exasperated him and was frustrating for him, in the middle of the night, to have her confronting him repeatedly with a very uninformed demand. He has only started wearing it again and he’s been living there for well over a year.

The KU-K-State game starts at 1:00.

Tonight is the Wilson Chamber of Commerce casino night. The “family” (Todd, Karen, Tall Boy, Dane and I) is going as we’ve determined Dane will fit in the Opera House elevator. Brit’s neck won’t hold up that long so he’s opting out. The event starts at 6:00 with a finger food buffet, which is always good. The rest of the activities start at 7:00 and last until 9:30. It’s always a lot of fun to be among friends so we’re all looking forward to it.

Tomorrow afternoon I’ll be going to another water meeting in Salina. It should be interesting. I think those folks have finally figured out that they, as well as the rest of us who live west of them, have serious water problems. That doesn’t seem to prevent state officials and politicians from “encouraging” the construction of more water-guzzling ethanol plants in Russell and elsewhere in water-short western Kansas. Where are their heads?

3/3/2007

BRILLIANT SOLUTIONS

Filed under: energy, water supply — Peg Britton @ 5:33 pm

At The World Solar Congress….

Lester Brown discussed how water, energy and food are inexorably intertwined. Humans need 4 liters of water per day, and it takes 2,000 liters of water to produce the food each of us consumes every day! It takes 1,000 tons of water to produce 1 ton of grain, he said.

“Connect the dots,” Brown said. “A future of water shortages will equal a future of food shortages. The world’s population doubled but the demand for water tripled. Demand is outpacing supply and there will be 3 billion more people by 2050 — many in countries already going dry.”

He cited our own U.S.-based over-pumping of the Ogallala Aquifer as an example of one area in our own backyard where we’re in danger. As the value of water rises to previously unheard of heights, some farmers have found it lucrative to abandon farming and sell their water rights to cities or water brokers!

“It’s becoming a battle over water that pits cities against farmers,” Brown said. “Neither can win and neither can afford to lose.

“Not one single country has addressed the stabilization of falling water tables.”

Brown related the looming global water crises to the lackluster response to AIDS when it first began appearing in Africa.

” There are 6,000 deaths per day in Africa from AIDS,” he said, “

OTHER STATES ARE CONCERNED ABOUT KANSAS’ LACK OF STACK EMISSION CONTROLS

Filed under: energy, water supply, Kanopolis Musings — Peg Britton @ 4:35 pm

It seems to me since the beginning of the huge push for wind energy in the state, the business dealings of the politicos, government officials and energy moguls have grown increasingly shrouded in opaqueness.

The opaqueness extends throughout the entire Kansas water and energy spectrum especially as it applies to western Kansas, the center circle of the bull’s-eye for energy development and the collection point of damaging particulates that create global warming.

It extends to the oversight at every level of western Kansas water aquifers and ground water, irrigation rights, wind farm locations, ethanol plants, fossil fuel energy plants, biodiesel plants, plant emission controls to curb greenhouse gasses (or lack of them), etc.

There is little the public can question that comes with “transparency in government”. There is little or no public discussion of these issues.

In the process, the new “Democrats” and the Governor are directing Kansas to a rigid red state position on the environment while national Democratic politicians and grass roots democrats are thinking and acting green.

Since the general public isn’t privy to the information that would allow us to be informed and knowledgeable about political matters, we can only assume that the acquisition of wind energy from Smokey Hills by Sunflower, and other wind projects, is an effort to placate and smoke fill public eyes into believing it’s a sincere effort toward a “green” movement to cut down on stack emissions. That would allow the “state energy folks and administration” to approve the addition to the Holcomb plant without requiring adequate emission controls. This would be the same Holcomb units that are projected to INCREASE carbon dioxide emissions by 15.4 tons or more per year.

Although Sunflower may meet the “minimum requirements” for emission controls, that’s neither enough for the residents of western Kansan who will have to inhale tons of particulates over the coming years, it’s not enough to project Kansas in the image it deserves, nor is it enough for the other states effected by it that are making an honest effort to curb greenhouse emissions. Elected officials are in a position to do something about it, but are they?

Eight states have contacted Kansas about our lack of cooperation in curbing stack emissions. See this letter.

A request to establish a new wind farm projected for Ellis County is being made Monday and I’ve already had a letter from one county official asking where to turn for help in preventing it. My guess is he didn’t even know it was coming until he read it on my blog.

The US Energy Partners ethanol plant and wheat gluten plant in Russell have been using about 500,000 gallons of water per day but would like 1 million gallons per day, They get about 100,000 gallons per day from the Post Rock Rural Water District, which gets water from the Kanopolis Reservoir. In a statement carried in this week’s INDY, David Bailey calls the ethanol facility “a big asset” and said “we are close to entering a permanent agreement with that facility. We have one on the table we are getting ready to forward to them.” There goes our water. Salina in the meantime is wondering where water will come from to supply drinking water to its residents. Ellsworth County folk should be ever watchful of Post Rock and water usage upstream.

The Smokey Hill river that feeds Kanopolis Reservoir is dead dry from its origin on the Colorado line to Hays.

One day, someone will turn on a spigot and nothing will come from it. When the water is gone, the ethanol plants will be shut down first and all those who have raped what they can from Kansas will leave. Financing ethanol plants is not difficult and some people are becoming very wealthy from it.

Energy promoters are in it for the money and plenty of it is available from the government in tax credits and elsewhere. When there is no more money to make, they’ll be gone.

A group of area investors announced plans Tuesday to proceed with building an ethanol plant in Rice County between Lyons and Sterling.

There are seven active ethanol plants in Kansas, producing about 170 million gallons of ethanol a year, with others in various stages of planning or construction. There are more than 80 ethanol plants in the nation. We have more than our share of ethanol plants.

Wärtsilä Corporation, a leading global provider of power plants, signed an equipment supply contract for a 76 MW gas-fired power plant for Midwest Energy, Inc., a customer-owned electric and gas utility serving central and western Kansas. The contract valued at over $30 million will be located at Hays and will supply reliable, flexible power to 48,000 electric customers. By employing a closed loop cooling system, Wärtsilä’s engines do not consume process water or require wastewater treatment or disposal. This helps to address the growing concern over water supply in this area.

Changes for western Kansas are arriving on a train with a full head of steam and most of us are standing by the tracks wondering who is responsible for all of it and what thought has been given to it. Most of it makes no sense, except that it’s obvious a lot of people are being lured by the smell of money with little thought being given to the consequences of their actions.

2/28/2007

THAT AND THIS

Filed under: prairie musings, energy, water supply, Ellsworth — Peg Britton @ 7:29 pm

Dr. Doug Moeckel, superintendent of USD #327, intends to offer his resignation in order to assume another position in education. He’s been good for our district’s children and teachers and will be missed. Good superintendents like Doug don’t come around our way all that often. On a positive note, change can be a good thing so that new eyes can see where improvements could be made. The flex schedule and athletic programs could use close examination.

K-156 is going to close …AGAIN…on Monday, weather permitting. Phase two will include replacing the existing roadway with wider lanes and shoulders. It’s time for me to put my lemonade stand at the end of our driveway and catch the drivers as they pass by.

Even though students are keenly aware of it, they should heed the advice of adults and more mature individuals and be selective and cautious about what they post on facebook and other such sites. They pushed the envelope too far. As Kenz said: “I know of a lot of people who have had potential employers get on facebook and look someone up and not offer employment (or take away the offer) just because of what they found on there.”

I’ve read where the same goes for grants and awards and other such things that require more self control than some students display when attempting to show others how “really cool” they think they are. Whether they believe it or not, almost anyone can access those sites for information, including law enforcement personnel. The binge drinking problem in Ellsworth among irresponsible teenagers is going to blow up one of these days.

“Make it Open” is a good editorial in this week’s INDY. Linda’s editorials are usually very good.

The review of the annual meeting of the Post Rock Rural Water District carried in the INDY today had an interesting quote: “The ethanol facility has been a big asset,” Bailey (David) said. “We are close to entering a permanent agreement with that facility. We have one on the table that we are getting ready to forward to them.” Bailey said the agreement for Post Rock to supply water to the ethanol plant in Russell could be completed within 30 days.

As soon as they’ve sucked all the water out of the area, the ethanol plants will cut and run.

Kansas now has multinational corporations from Italy, Scotland, Spain, Germany and Great Britain promoting large scale developments in the state. Once the projects are developed the strategy for some companies is to “sell them to large industry players.” That is often done to allow the large industry players to take advantage of the federal tax credits. Pay attention folks.

Women don’t have reproductive rights. The only way women come close to achieving equality is when they can control their own fertility.

Abortion rights for men have been available since the beginning of time. When they are unhappy with a pregnancy, they walk away. It doesn’t matter if it’s the day after conception or when the child is ten years old.

I think I’ll watch “Elizabeth” tonight with Cate Blanchett. It’s time for a little Elizabethan England.

Thanks for tuning in.

2/13/2007

WE HAVE TO LIVE NOW AS IF THE FUTURE MATTERS

Filed under: political musings, water supply, Wilson Musings, Kanopolis Musings — Peg Britton @ 10:34 am

This posting ties into the wind energy article below in that here’s the point: We are using now all those things that those who come after us will need…food, energy, water, soil, natural resources…

If you read to the end of this, please make a comment.

There is nothing more critical to land, people and the economy than water. Sunday afternoon the room at Kansas Wesleyan was packed mostly with Salina folk, and a friend and I, to hear Mike Hayden and others talk about the dire situation we face with diminishing water supplies. The outlook is not good. The situation only worsens.

When people talk about the low lake levels at Kanopolis and Wilson Lakes (Cedar Bluff, Sebelius, Kirwin, etc.), invariably someone will say, “It’s the drought!” The Smoky Hill Reservoir is half full but that has NOT been caused by drought. There isn’t any drought.
We’re not even close to being in drought conditions like we experienced in the “Dirty Thirties”. Here’s a good map to see that. Wyoming, for instance, is experiencing a severe drought.

Precipitation between 2000-2005 was greater than in 1933-37 or 1952-57 in all cases. Those were drought years.

In the late 1940s Kanopolis Lake was built on the Smoky Hill River. The first state park was located at Kanopolis Lake. It has served as a water supply for downstream users. Last summer the Kanopolis water levels dropped significantly. The lowest level ever might occur in the next two months.

Data used to build reservoirs are no longer paradigms. They have changed.

It isn’t drought and lack of rainfall that affect stream flow. During the “dirty 30s”, there was twice as much stream flow in the Smoky Hill than now. The stream flow is not expected to recover any time soon. Clearly, the historic flow has been diminished.

So, what is the problem, why is there very little water in the Smoky Hill or flowing into Kanopolis Reservoir? I – R – R – I – G – A – T – I – O – N.

Irrigation to the west begins in the headwaters of the Ogallala. The Smoky Hill River begins in the high plains in the heart of the Ogallala. There is no water in the Smoky Hill River from its origin near the Colorado border to Hays. Nothing. The river bed is full of full mature trees and other vegetation.

Water rights are established on the principal of “First in Time, First in Right”. Water rights are equal in Kansas regardless of use. Water goes to the first to file and they have first right to the water.

At issue with Salina are all the senior and junior water rights that come before Salina that are located along the Smoky Hill River between Kanopolis Lake and Salina. If all the senior water right holders exercised their rights at one time, it is possible they could use all the water before any would remain for Salina. At that point in the meeting, you could hear a sea of gasping, strangling noises from the Salina contingency.

Based on the current rate of usage, the Ogallala has ….maybe….20 years of life left to supply us with water. In 25 years, it will probably be depleted. Meantime, the stream flow in the Smoky Hill will continue to decrease, or stop.

This is a very complicated issue and there are no easy solutions. It will take a lot of planning and cooperation among several counties and hundreds of people. There is great resistance in the legislature for restrictions on either mandatory or volunteer pumping because of the widespread economic consequences.

The things we are using now in excess that belong also to future generations take millions of years to regenerate. Shortages of natural gifts create a crisis that will require resiliency on our part.

We have to live now as if the future matters. Is anyone really doing that?

2/8/2007

MORE OF THIS AND THAT

Filed under: prairie musings, energy, family, water supply — Peg Britton @ 3:37 pm

Dane and I had fried chicken from Gene’s for lunch today. He doesn’t get anything like that at the home and he enjoys it once in awhile. Gene’s does a good job frying chicken, but I still pull all the outside off and push it aside. The baked beans were good and I got some Amish potato salad that also was good.  There were only two of us so I got just enough so I wouldn’t have leftovers.  Brit and Ally had lunch at On the Border in Topeka.

Another good friend told me one of her favorite movies was “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”.  Sounded good. Whew…I barely made it through it.  I didn’t care at all for it.  Another friend recommended “Tea with Mussolini”, which I dearly loved.  “I.Q.” with Meg Ryan, Tim Robbins and Walter Matthau was cute and funny. I wasn’t all that fond of “Cradle will Rock”.

The planes are still circling the town with regularity.  I heard that Ellsworth is a “target” and that the “guvmint” people who check on pilot accuracy are parked at the quick shop down the road from us. At times conversations are held to a minimum because of the noise.  With phone conversations, you just have to wait until the noise stops. It’s pretty constant.  I’d think they could find a target in the country where they wouldn’t disturb people so much.  There are plenty of isolated spots in Ellsworth County where their presence wouldn’t be noticed.

There goes western Kansas.  Two new ethanol plants, a biodiesel plant are in the works.  Nexsun Energy said it will build plants in Grant County that would produce 40 million gallons of ethanol per year and 30 million gallons of biodiesel. Do you hear that sucking sound of water leaving Kansas?  Then Scoular Company wants to build an ethanol plant in Finney County that would produce up to 110 million gallons per year. More sucking.

Two new plants are already underway in Finney County (Bonanza Biofuels) and Seward County (Arkalon Energy). Nexsun is already an investor in a Ford County ethanol plant.  Another ethanol proposal that was announced for Ford County will be bigger than originally planned. Now it wants to build a 226.8 million gallon ethanol plant and produce 60 million gallons per year at the biodiesel plant. I suppose if any of us had any sense we’d sell out before western Kansas becomes a desert.

Brit and Ally are on their way home from Brit’s appointment at the VA Hospital. They employed high-powered digital hearing aids and he could understand 70% of the sentences in the test.  That disqualifies him for cochlear implants.  That is fine if these aids work and he can hear.  It’s a pretty fancy set up and after spending a fortune on hearing aids over the years that didn’t work (he was always scammed in the tests and sales), the government will foot the bill for these.  His loss of hearing was service related, and believe it or not after all these years, they still had his records of the event.

1/17/2007

Y’ALL ARE LATE TO THE PARTY ON THIS SUBJECT. YOU WALKED IN ON A RAPE IN PROGRESS….

Filed under: political musings, water supply, Kanopolis Musings — Peg Britton @ 10:18 pm

Governor leadership, at the request of Phelps and Lee, fired him within days of the issuance of that fateful letter. The LAST letter issued from the water office that dared to say no to Hays and Russell.

SO… to make matters worse, after Governor leadership fired Clark Duffy, she installed Darth, er, I mean Joe Harkins to get the dirty deed done for Hays and Russell. Closed meetings and secret contracts were the rule of the day under Darth Harkins.

And so the draining of the Smoky began, in conjunction with Hays City Attorney John Bird. You will remember him as a former state party big wig, last known as the head of the Clinton Gore campaign in Kansas. Governor leadership even nominated his wife last year for a judicial appointment, but later withdrew.

Politics dictating governor leadership’s water policy? Oh yeah, it doesn’t stop there…

Don’t forget the debt she paid to John Montgomery, former publisher of the Hays Daily News, now a Harris V.P. in Hutch. He is democratic royalty in ks. Remember his Dad, John sr. was also a democrat good ol’ boy. Former state party chair, yadda yadda yadda. Just like Bird.

Yep. Water has been political currency since November of 2002. That is when Hays and Russell formally announced their intention to drain the Smoky, starting with Cedar Bluff.

Y’all are late to the party on this subject. You walked in on a rape in progress….

Posted by: ksfarmgrrl | January 16, 2007 at 10:26 AM

ETHANOL PRODUCTION HAS BIG DOWNSIDE

Filed under: energy, water supply — Peg Britton @ 10:00 pm

Letter to the editor in today’s Wichita Eagle:

Kansas has eight operating ethanol plants, eight more under or nearing construction and up to half a dozen more on the drawing board. Many Kansas politicians have praised ethanol production as a boon to the Kansas economy.

But there is a downside to ethanol production in Kansas. It is drawing huge quantities of water from our already limited underground aquifers. Also, increased irrigation of corn for ethanol production, rather than for human consumption, is further depleting this underground water.

The Ogallala Aquifer under western and central Kansas was once said to contain as much pure water as Lake Superior. The Ogallala furnishes water to the picturesque, free-flowing Ninnescah rivers, both branches of which spring out of the ground in Pratt County and flow eastward toward Wichita.

The north Ninnescah branch furnishes water to Cheney Reservoir, which in turn is a source of about 50 percent of Wichita’s drinking water. The other 50 percent comes from the Equus Beds aquifer near Halstead.

Ethanol plants also have potential to pollute the air. The smell from rotting sour mash was graphically described by Colwich citizens at a Kansas Department of Health and Environment public meeting on Jan. 3. The problem for Colwich citizens is that a second, larger ethanol plant is proposed by Abengoa Bioenergy Corp.

Wichitans have a drinking and breathing problem — our citizens want to continue to enjoy both a cool glass of water and fresh, breathable air.

JERRY WINKELMAN
Wichita

1/14/2007

OUR WATER IS DISAPPEARING FAST…

Filed under: water supply — Peg Britton @ 12:27 pm

Seriously though, thanks for pointing out that the biggest threat to Kansas’ future is the looming water crisis. And it isn’t on ANYONE’s agenda in Topeka except for big ag.

Thanks for keeping that fact in front of your readers. Just because you have water today, doesn’t mean you’ll have water tomorrow.

Ask anyone at Cedar Bluff…..

1/7/2007

IF YOU DON’T KNOW WHERE YOU ARE GOING, ANY ROAD WILL TAKE YOU THERE

Filed under: water supply — Peg Britton @ 4:37 pm

Today the Salina Journal had a front page article on water issues. It’s a terrible problem we’re facing and you can see politics written all over efforts to shove it in someone else’s lap.

A friend of mine, who knows as much about water as anyone I know, posted this on a Wichita Eagle blog today. I’m posting it here for you to read. It’s important to understand the complex nature of the problem.

“The growing water problem is a tough nut to crack.

“Ending irrigation will mean ending cultivation in some places. Good for the environment, bad for the local economy. Loss of jobs, businesses, tax revenue, and population.

“Most importantly, loss of people. Which will quickly lead to the total loss of the economy of western Kansas. Think buffalo commons.

“I have mixed feelings as the water table drops. We can’t sustain the current water usage, and big irrigation and big ag aren’t sustaining local economies either. So.. building or trying to grow the economy out by mining water (irrigation, ethanol, feedlots) is just another way to die.

“And shutting down the only industry here is a sure way to die as well if we don’t start looking for a different and workable economy. We cant make buggy whips anymore.

“It’s just the end of an era and we are loath to face a future when we see no possibility. We can waste our time trying to postpone the inevitable, to hand off the problem to the next generation. But that isn’t workable either.

“I think we will be the generation that had the last clear shot of saving any water in western Kansas.

“As for us westerners, like sharks, we better keep moving forward or we are going die with a whimper and not a bang. We have to figure out a way to go forward, and we have to figure that out in the face of knowing that not every farmer, school, business, or community will make it.

“That doesn’t leave much room for error. No wonder we are so angry when the decisions are made for political expediency, and not with an eye to setting precedent and where we as a state want to go in the future.

“‘Cause ya know, if you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.

“There is only one sure thing. We can’t continue on the way we are and survive.”

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