To the editor:
I praise the Food Sustainability Network's panel discussion about the benefits and challenges of sustaining a community with local food (Journal-World, March 16).
I would agree with the panel's sentiments that the North Lawrence agricultural ground close to the airport is prime. It is the type of quality soils best used for local food and horticultural use, not buildings. But a far greater loss is already happening.
Only a couple hundred acres were identified as a potential site for an airport business park. More than 4,000 acres of equally high quality Kansas River Valley soil is under attack between Lawrence and Eudora.
Without the knowledge of affected landowners, a wholesale water district has captured all available water rights between Lawrence and Eudora. No more water rights can be obtained in this area. Millions of gallons of water would be piped from the Kaw Valley to over 40 miles away. Through eminent domain the district wants to obtain access to drill wells. Using eminent domain to acquire water rights is a tactic that has never been used in Kansas.
Area farms are battling this action in court. My neighbor, Greg Shipe, of Davenport Orchard and Winery, is one of the landowners forced to allow wells to be dug on his property. I know he could use support, both moral and financial.
The tool of irrigation is necessary for commercial fruit and vegetable production. If our community really wants to support locally grown food, it must help in stopping this water district.