Kansas governor pledges to focus on water as the western side of the state sees potential shortages.
The Kansas Governor has pledged to focus on water issues in the state. The western side faces looming shortages as it grapples with drought. The eastern half deals with periodic intense flooding and contamination from various sources affects the whole state.
Kansas Governor Laura Kelly acknowledged the state’s water issue – shortages, flooding, contamination from uranium in the west and from nitrates throughout the state – at a recent conference that focuses on the state’s water, saying she refuses “to allow the can to be kicked further down the road,” as has been done previously.
Efforts to overhaul the state’s water management earlier in 2022 were met with resistance from those who use it most – farmers, ranchers and groundwater managers in the western part of the state. Recent water legislation that would have given the state more control over its management was gutted in the House Water Committee, as the bill put the state at odds with its biggest water user – agriculture.
Frequent readers of this site know that farming and ranching use a lot of water, especially where beef and corn are concerned. Kansas produces its share of both, often with water from the rapidly depleting Ogallala Aquifer.
The original bill would have increased water use fees that haven’t changed in almost 40 years. Irrigators would have taken a hit. In addition, residents living within groundwater management districts who are not water rights holders would have more power as they would be able to sit on groundwater management district boards. The Governor proposed to fully fund the state’s part of the bill, but legislators weren’t having it.
In a bid to unite the urban and rural divide in her state, Governor Kelly is appealing to Kansan’s sense of the future and by tying her efforts into Kansas’ record breaking growth. Kelly reminded residents that, without water, the future is very uncertain for the entire state.