Messages of Sustainability and Collaboration Delivered, Water Legacy Award presented
Manhattan, Kan. – Approximately 600 attendees with diverse water interests were encouraged at the Governor’s Conference on the Future of Water in Kansas to keep pushing forward with implementation efforts for accomplishing regional priorities within the Long Term Vision for the Future of Water Supply in Kansas to ensure our state’s water future.
“The State of Kansas remains focused on its goal of a sustainable water future,” said Lt. Governor Tracey Mann. “During this past year serving as Lt. Governor I have met thousands of Kansas that are working each day to make a living and make Kansas a better place and it’s easy to see how having a ready supply of good quality water means a community or industry can develop and grow.”
Attendees heard updates on water resource statuses and continued implementation of the Vision as well as areas of concern throughout the state. Progress continues to be made through local, state and federal efforts to implement conservation practices to improve water quality and decrease reservoir sedimentation but much work still remains. To date 185 failing streambanks have been stabilized but nearly 700 still need to be addressed in priority watersheds. Reservoirs within Kansas continue to lose storage due to sedimentation. There are now 10 Water Technology Farms across the state demonstrating how producers can maintain their bottom line while reducing water use. More progress needs to be made to reduce water use as groundwater levels continue to fall in the Ogallala Aquifer.
Sustainable food production was the message attendees heard from Tim Hardman Director of Food and Markets, World Wildlife Federation, as he shared changing consumer attitudes towards how food is produced. This concept is explored as many businesses look to do business in Kansas and sustainable water is part of that conversation.
Meeting growing water supply needs is a common problem facing communities across the nation, and a critical component of the Vision in Kansas. Tom Kula, Executive Director of the North Texas Municipal Water District addressed this issue head-on while describing the construction of the first major reservoir in Texas in 30 years to serve growing communities. Challenges included mitigation of more than 17,000 acres, and permitting requirements at all levels. Kula encouraged attendees to get support at all levels and keep stakeholders informed along the way, and identify and offer win-win solutions.
The morning featured the “Water Legacy Award” which was presented to David Pope, who has worked to define and implement the modern water resource management principles used in Kansas today who. principles used in Kansas today. Starting with his role as manager of Southwest Kansas Groundwater Management District No. 3 for two years, five years as Assistant Chief Engineer of the Division of Water Resources (DWR) and 24 years as Chief Engineer of DWR, Pope spearheaded many groundbreaking initiatives.
This year’s ‘Be the Vision’ award recipients were also honored for taking extraordinary measures to conserve, reuse or adopt better practices to help ensure the future of our state’s water resources. This year’s recipients were Bryan Taylor, Project Manager in the Civil Works Branch Programs and Project Management Division, who was assigned to the John Redmond Reservoir Dredging project and became an integral part of the process and eventual success; Chuck Samples, with KVOE radio for his continual media coverage of water in Kansas and the John Redmond Dredging project; USDA-NRCS and State Conservationist Karen Woodrich for their partnership with the Milford Lake Watershed RCPP Project as well as their critical role in the recent drought through the EQIP Drought Initiative Program; and Weston McCary, Director of the Precision Ag program in Goodland which is a comprehensive program teaching students about high-tech practices, equipment, and software being utilized in production agriculture today. Using a combination of classroom, shop, and field environments, students acquire the skills necessary to succeed in today’s competitive precision agriculture industry and incorporating the practices on the Water Technology Farm. Secretary of Agriculture Jackie McClaskey and Lieutenant Governor Tracey Mann was on hand to help with the award presentation.
The rest of the day continued with Tim Hardman, Director of Sustainable Food for World Wildlife Fund, Tom Kula, Executive Director of North Texas Municipal Water District, and four panels highlighting different water topics, Conservation and Sustainability; Why Does Navigation Matter to Kansas; Water Technology Farms and Aquifer Impacts and Infrastructure for the Future.
Tomorrow will build on Vision implementation and water management and policy discussions from the previous day with technical presentations, posters and talks. Graduate and undergraduate students will present their research.
The conference also features the Kansas Water Office Photo Contest. More than 120 photos were submitted to be voted on as the ‘people’s choice’ at the conference. The winner will be featured on the 2019 brochure, website and other locations throughout the coming year.
The Governor’s Conference on the Future of Water in Kansas is hosted by the KWO, K-State /Kansas Water Resource Institute. Major sponsors for the event include Black & Veatch, Burns & McDonnell and Great Lakes Dredge & Dock.