Thursday, October 22, 2020
"An investment in Knowledge pays the best Interest."

Ben Franklin's words still ring true today. So we pick out the most appropriate articles in current events and news regarding the Water Industry both nationally and in Kansas to filter the most pertinent information for you.

E-News for Oct. 12, 2020

10/12/2020 - Weekly KRWA E-News

Earl Lewis Named Kansas DWR Chief Engineer
The Kansas Department of Agriculture last week announced that Earl Lewis has been selected to serve as Chief Engineer for the agency's Division of Water Resources. He replaces David Barfield, who retired from the agency earlier this year. Photograph of Earl Lewis.Lewis has dedicated his career to water resources in Kansas, including more than 20 years with the Kansas Water Office where has been serving as the director since December 2018. He began his career with DWR in 1992, and has been a licensed professional engineer since 1998. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Kansas. “The breadth and depth of experience in the field of water resources that Earl brings to this position will serve Kansas well,” said Kansas Secretary of Agriculture Mike Beam. “We look forward to the leadership he will provide to this critical division within KDA.” [source


KDHE Expands Testing Program for Coronavirus in Wastewater
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment last week announced plans to expand surveillance of the novel coronavirus through wastewater sampling across the state. KDHE Secretary, Dr. Lee Norman, such testing can help identify the virus up to a week before it shows in the case numbers. “While we realize it isn’t a silver bullet, for COVID-19, it does provide us additional piece of data we can use to fight COVID-19.” KDHE began limited testing wastewater sampling beginning in April as part of a study through the University of Kansas. The city of Lawrence was an early participant in the study and publishes their results in an online dashboard. Wastewater surveillance fills gaps in COVID-19 clinical testing, which can be limited, costly, and plagued by slow turnaround times. [source


Conservationists Hope to Proactively Recharge Ogallala in Western Kansas Counties
In a multi-million dollar project, a diverse group of conservation organizations are collaborating to help naturally recharge portions of the Ogallala Aquifer in parts of western Kansas. Their current focus area is Greeley and Wichita counties, with an emphasis on the restoration of natural habitat near domestic and municipal wells. Experts are concerned that the area won’t have enough groundwater to sustain the cities of Leoti and Tribune over the next 50 years. A key part of their strategy involves restoring playas, which are thought to be a primary source of recharge for the Ogallala Aquifer. Other parts of the plan include reducing irrigated acres and converting cropland into native grassland. [source


Groundwater Depletion Means 'Peak Grain' Has Come, Gone for Kansas
A new analysis published Oct. 5, indicates Kansas likely reached peak grain in 2016, primarily due to depletion of the Ogallala Aquifer. The model also forecasts declining groundwater use in Kansas over the coming decades as the energy costs of pumping water from deeper depths can drive investment toward more efficient irrigation. Grain yields in both Texas and Kansas have been declining over the last four years. Without new yield-boosting technologies, grain production in Texas could decline as much as 40 percent by 2050, the study notes. While it’s certainly possible for a technological advance to come along and improve the outlook, reversing these trends is unlikely. Overall, the latest findings suggest depleted groundwater levels will continue to pose a serious threat to grain production across the region. Many farmers in the region rely on the Ogallala aquifer to supply as much as 90 percent of their irrigation. [source


$500,000 Grant to Protect Historic Kansas Properties
The National Park Service has awarded a $500,000 Paul Bruhn Historic Revitalization Grant to the Kansas Historical Society to assist Kansans who own historic properties in communities with populations of less than 30,000. The Historical Society's Historic Preservation Office will develop this new sub-grant program they're naming Kansas Rural Preservation. Kansas was among eight recipients to receive the Paul Bruhn Historic Revitalization Grants this year. A total of $4.8 million was awarded in 2020 to support the preservation of historic buildings in rural communities across America. Now in its second year, the Paul Bruhn Historical Revitalization Grants are named for a former executive director of the Preservation Trust of Vermont. More details about the sub-grant program and applications will become available this winter. Interested parties are encouraged to contact KSHS directly to be placed on a notification list for further details. [source


USDA Seeks New Partnerships to Safeguard, Restore Wetland Ecosystems
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) last week announced up to $30 million is available in technical and financial assistance through the Wetland Reserve Enhancement Partnership (WREP) to help conservation partners protect and restore critical wetlands on private agricultural lands. Wetland Reserve Easements enable landowners to successfully reduce impacts from flooding, recharge groundwater, enhance and protect wildlife habitat, and provide outdoor recreational and educational opportunities. The Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) is a voluntary restoration program that provides technical assistance to help achieve those goals. [source


Drought Monitor
Precipitation was almost non-existent across the High Plains region last week, with only a few areas of light showers in portions of South Dakota and Nebraska. Moreover, drought conditions continue to deteriorate across Kansas and surrounding states, according to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor, with little chance for improvement in the short term. The long-term forecast also remains bleak, with continued chances for a dry and warm winter, thanks to La Niña, the name used for cooler-than-average ocean surface temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific, which can in turn alter the global weather pattern. Even more concerning, forecasters believe this La Niña could be on the stronger side and that it might persist through the winter. A moderate to strong La Nina, such as those experienced during 2011 and 2012, can greatly exacerbate the ongoing drought across the southern High Plains. Impacts can vary, however, and there are many other factors that can ultimately affect the Kansas winter weather pattern. We could still experience extreme weather events this winter including blizzards and ice-storms, but the odds appear to be tilted towards continued dry and warm weather for the next few months.
Kansas 60-Day Precipitation (Percent of Normal)
Current U.S. Drought Monitor maps for:
Arkansas River Basin, High Plains Region, North-Central RegionSouthern Plains Region and State of Kansas