Brownback moving ahead on 50-year water vision

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TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The administration of Gov. Sam Brownback is moving forward with a plan for the state’s long-term water supply.

The plan’s more ambitious parts include dredging state lakes and possibly building an aqueduct from the Missouri River to western Kansas, the Lawrence Journal-World ( ) reported. Those would require large amounts of new revenue, as well as cooperation from other states.

During a meeting of the governor’s Council of Economic Advisers last week, Agriculture Secretary Jackie McClaskey asked for help forming a panel to come up with options for long-term funding of the plan.

“One of the things we have heard across the state is that we really need business leaders to be a part of that task force,” McClaskey said.

In western Kansas, farm irrigation is depleting the underground Ogallala Aquifer; in some counties, irrigation has stopped entirely. Large federal lakes that serve public water supplies in eastern Kansas are being filled with sediment from erosion of stream banks that feed into the lakes.

Brownback’s administration last month released a second draft of the plan, which is expected to be finalized next month. Among the recommendations are water conservation projects to extend the life of the Ogallala Aquifer and developing new crop varieties that require less water.

The draft report also calls for hosting a meeting between governors for states that border the Missouri River “to collaborate on river and reservoir management issues.”

Kansas has a State Water Plan Fund, comprised of dedicated revenue from various sources like fees on municipal water bills, to pay for water projects.

However, those revenues only generate up to around $13 million a year, much less than what would be needed to fund the projects noted in the water plan. The state started a dredging project earlier this year at John Redmond Reservoir in Coffey County, an effort expect to cost about $20 million.



Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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