On November 8-9, Kanza Cooperative Association’s Chief Compliance Officer Nicholas Krehbiel attended the 2017 Governor’s Conference on the Future of Water in Kansas, held in Manhattan. As stated on the conference’s website, “The conference brings together scientists, water managers, state and federal officials and legislators, city and county administrators, environmental organizations, irrigators and citizens who share an interest in Kansas water resources.” As Kanza’s membership has a vested interest in the future of water rights and usage throughout south-central Kansas, the company’s leadership believes that it is imperative for the cooperative to be engaged in discussions about the use of one of the region’s most precious resources.
“There were valuable discussions everywhere I turned,” said Krehbiel. “This was not something that focused solely on Ogallalah Aquifer depletion or restricting irrigation. There was definitely a holistic approach to what the future of water holds throughout the state. The panels dealt with water management, the various states of supply throughout the aquifer, methods of water management administration, reservoir issues, and grassroots means to become more efficient water users, to name a few. Kanza’s primary concern as it pertains to water is with the aquifer as irrigation is so pivotal to our membership, but there was much more to be learned at the conference.”
The overall purpose of the conference was to engender discussions and educate Kansans about what water’s future holds throughout the state. To be certain, there are regions that face a bleak outlook in terms of supply for agriculture. However, it was clear that local efforts in specific areas, such as the Sheridan County 6 LEMA (Local Enhanced Management Plan), have seen successes and could provide a model for moving forward.
“If anything I think it’s important to point out that the status quo simply isn’t going to last. It seldom works that way in all facets of life and our water situation isn’t much different,” Krehbiel stated. “Even regions that have an abundance of groundwater now will see increased demands placed on that supply in the coming years or decades either through urban sprawl or efforts to slow or stop the degradation. I fundamentally believe that the best approach will be a coordinated effort between producers, industry, municipalities, and government regulators to reach an agreeable solution. What was being discussed at the conference bore that out. I don’t think we can continue to pump unfettered, but nobody wants to see authorities step in and say ‘we’re shutting this off completely.’ Nobody wins in either of those scenarios.”