Wednesday, June 16, 2021
     
"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 June 7, 2021

06/07/2021 - Weekly KRWA E-News

Rural Water Districts Should Make Plans for 2021 Annual Meeting
Public health orders issued during the pandemic limited public gatherings. In order to protect the public health, the Governor issued Executive Order 21-05, which extended the deadline for RWDs to hold an annual meeting in 2021, from April 1 until October 1. However, due to improving health conditions, it appears that the current State of Emergency, set to expire on June 15, 2021, will not be extended. Kansas Governor'S Executive Order 21-05.The Executive Order will automatically expire whenever the State of Emergency expires. If your District has not yet held its annual meeting, consider making plans to hold that meeting after June 15. Given the unlikelihood of the extension of the State of Emergency, and thus the expiration of the EO, the meeting should be held as soon as reasonably possible after June 15, in compliance with RWD bylaws including notice to members, and in compliance with all state and local health orders.

 

Commentary: Aquifer Loss is a Generational Test of Kansas Values and Obligations
One big obstacle to Kansas' groundwater crisis is how groundwater in Kansas is governed. In the 1970s, the state set up several Groundwater Management Districts to allow local communities in regions of heavy water use to decide their own futures. It was a good idea in principle. In practice, it caused the opposite results. Participation in GMDs is confined to those who own at least 40 acres of land or substantial water rights. Water governance is reserved for a privileged few who are allowed to determine the fate of many. This violates the reason for the GMD policy in the first place. It excludes the vast majority of rural Kansans from deciding the long-term future of their families and communities. And it most hurts those already struggling to make ends meet. This goes against Kansas values of justice, freedom, decency and local democracy. [source]

 

USDA Seeks Applicants to Improve Water & Wastewater Infrastructure in Rural Areas
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has funds available through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program. Eligible applicants are encouraged to apply by using the online application system RD Apply. In Fiscal Year 2020, USDA’s Water and Environmental Programs invested $2.09 billion improving rural infrastructure for 2.1 million rural residents. The Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program provides loans and grants for clean and reliable drinking water systems, sanitary sewage disposal, solid waste disposal, and storm water drainage to households and businesses in rural areas with a population of 10,000 or less. Funding may also be available for related cost such as legal and engineering fees, land acquisition, water and land rights, environmental analyses and surveys, and other activities necessary to complete a project. Eligible applicants include local public bodies, nonprofit corporations, and federally recognized tribes. Low interest rate financing can be combined with grants to keep user rate affordable, and loans can carry a repayment term of up to 40 years. Additional information is available by contacting your local USDA Rural Development office.

 

Wichita Water Plant Project Remains on Schedule
The estimated date for substantial completion of the plant will be September 2024. An agreement with Evergy will be presented soon that will provide for a dedicated substation to supply electric power to the plant. The plant will replace an aging 80-year-old facility that is in need of replacement. A shutdown or failure could leave about 500,000 people without running water. The affected area includes some of the state’s largest hospitals, multiple fire departments, a fifth of the Kansas economy and a U.S. military base. The new facility will treat up to 120 million gallons of water per day. [source]

 

EPA Reaches Settlement in Alleged Clean Water Act Violations
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has reached a settlement with Thomas Robrahn, of Burlington, and Skillman Construction LLC, of New Strawn, to resolve alleged violations of the federal Clean Water Act that occurred on property along the Neosho River in Coffey County. Under the settlement, the parties will pay a $60,000 civil penalty. The EPA alleged Robrahn and Skillman Construction violated the CWA by placing approximately 400 cubic yards of broken concrete into the river adjacent to Robrahn’s property in an attempt to stabilize the riverbank. The EPA alleged the work impacted about 240 feet of the river and was completed without first obtaining a required CWA permit. The site was on a section of the river that has known populations of Neosho Madtom, a federally listed threatened fish species. As part of the settlement with EPA, the parties agreed to remove the concrete and restore the impacted site to comply with the CWA. While the EPA rules do allow for some types of “clean fill” to be dumped along riverbanks, and in some cases concrete may be one of the materials that is allowed, an EPA permit is required. [source]

 

Kansas State Agencies Weigh Prospects of Continued Telework
The shift to moving state employees to remote work during the pandemic was a significant logistical undertaking, with some state workers not even having laptops before the pandemic. Kansas agencies spent at least $8.8 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds on equipment, software and upgrades to allow for remote work, ranging from a $72 camera purchase in the Kansas Water Office to $1.4 million in audiovisual equipment for the Kansas Judicial Branch to ensure court hearings could be livestreamed. Under the State's guidelines on returning to work, in-person work will remain "a preferred norm" unless social distancing cannot be maintained. Some agencies, however, will still allow some remote work. Such telework can help agencies compete for talent with the private sector. [source

 

How Simple Fixes Can Prevent Cyber Attacks on Water Systems
Managers at utilities of all sizes are seeing a constant barrage of attacks of varying degrees of sophistication, says Kevin Morley, manager of federal relations for the American Water Works Association (AWWA). “If you’re not monitoring, you may have a false sense of security,” he says. “If you don’t look, it doesn’t mean it’s not happening.” Water systems in many jurisdictions do have good security controls when they have enough budget to support technology purchases and an appropriately sized and skilled staff. Wrangling security in rural communities, where 25 percent of the population is served by 85 percent of the nation’s community water systems, is another matter. [source]

 

Kansas City Water to Open Bill Payment Kiosks
KC Water, which serves 170,000 residential and business utility customers, plans to install three self-serve payment kiosks in the city. At each kiosk pay station, customers will have options to review their balance using an account number, make a full or partial payment and receive a printed, texted or emailed receipt immediately. "We wanted to provide a new payment option that would make it more convenient for customers to pay in person without facing unnecessary fees and delays from a third party, external outlet," John Clarkson, customer service officer at KC Water, said in the press release. [source]

 

Public Calls Upon Tucson Water to Cancel Debt for Delinquent Customers
The call to cancel delinquent water bills, incurred during the pandemic, comes amid a proposal to raise water rates. Tucson Water said 10,000 accounts are behind on their bills totaling about $3 million. A public hearing on the rate increase has been scheduled for June 8. [source]

 

Fun Outdoor Places in Kansas
From the Cowley County Lake Waterfall to the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, here are some fun outdoor places you and your family can visit this summer. [source]

 

KRWA Sponsored Water & Wastewater Training
June 8: Wastewater Operator Certification Prep (Garden City)
June 9-10: Programmable Logic Controllers - Application - Benefits (Hays)
June 15: Chlorine, Coming to a Distribution System Near You (Online)
June 16: Basic Electrical Maintenance and Troubleshooting (Marysville)
June 22: Ion Exchange and SCADA Technologies (Kingman)
June 23-24: Basic Electrical Maintenance and Troubleshooting (Newton)
June 24: Ion Exchange and SCADA Technologies (Hays)

 

Drought Monitor
A wet month of May led to a dramatic improvements in the drought picture in Kansas, as depicted on the latest U.S. Drought Monitor. But conditions are changing, with a return to dry conditions and high temperatures reaching 100°F last week as far north as eastern Montana and western North Dakota, bringing renewed stress to rangeland, pastures, and crops. According to the June 2021 Drought Outlook, drought improvement should continue for western Texas and eastern New Mexico for the month. But dry conditions are expected to remain across the western United States and even expand across the Pacific Northwest and northern Rockies.
Kansas portion of the U.S. Drought Monitor, released June 3, 2021.
Current U.S. Drought Monitor maps for:
Arkansas River Basin, High Plains Region, North-Central RegionSouthern Plains Region and State of Kansas