Archive for Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Worthwhile fee

A small “sustainability” fee could be a good investment in preserving the state’s water resources.

January 27, 2010


Paying even a little more for water won’t be popular with Kansas residents, but the fee being proposed to the Kansas Legislature may be a prudent move to deal with what could be a very serious impending problem for the state.

A bill before the House Vision 2020 Committee, chaired by Rep. Tom Sloan, R-Lawrence, would add a 3-cent “sustainability fee” to every 1,000 gallons of water drawn from surface water sources such as lakes and reservoirs. The money raised by the fee would fund efforts to monitor and help address lake sedimentation which is reducing the quality and amount of water available in the state for drinking, irrigation, industrial uses and recreation.

The effects of sedimentation were not unexpected, but many of the state’s lakes are silting in faster than expected. Six of the 20 federal reservoirs in Kansas used for drinking water are more than 20 percent silted in; four are 40 percent or more, according to state water officials. Perry Lake is about 18 percent silted in, and Clinton Lake about 6 percent.

In the years to come, water is likely to become an even more precious resource, and diminished capacity in the state’s reservoirs and lakes is a problem the state can’t afford to ignore. The 3-cent fee would add about 15 cents per month to the average household’s water bill. If that amount can allow the state to seriously address the sedimentation issue, it would be a good investment in the future.


KawHawk 8 years, 3 months ago

Wasn't this killed by the committee Monday ?

hawkfan_05 8 years, 3 months ago

Why do we always have to pay a Fee. Why, for once, can't they(any government body) say "hey, we have worked it into our budget this year to deal with this issue. We do not need any government money or taxes from anybody." I'm just saying.

jafs 8 years, 3 months ago

What is causing the sedimentation?

If it is agricultural runoff, for example, why not make those responsible for it pay for fixing it?

LogicMan 8 years, 3 months ago

"What is causing the sedimentation?"

Gravity. Maybe if we triple the tax, we can stop gravity now.

If not, this tax needs to specifically be for dredging.

Mark Jakubauskas 8 years, 3 months ago

If I may offer a few thoughts here...

Sedimentation in Kansas isn't simple. Sediment comes from several sources, not just overland (surface) flow, but also channel banks. There are places on the Delaware River north of Perry Lake, for instance, where the channel has shifted in many places by 40-50 feet in just 10-20 years..a huge volume of sediment. Once that sediment is in the lake, it not only can reduce the capacity, it can also trigger a host of problems, from algae blooms to effects on recreation (as anyone who has tried to sail a boat north of the causeway at Perry in recent years can testify) In the Neosho Basin - southeast Kansas - the Kansas Water Office has projected that water demand could exceed available supply in a drought there as early as 2012. We've seen across the country where this has happened - Texas, Georgia in 2008, California since 2007 - and even Kanopolis Lake in 2006 (we've pulled 10-foot-long sediment cores from parts of Kanopolis Lake). Marion and Hillsdale had to shut down their intakes on Marion Reservoir in 2003 due to a massive algae bloom that affected their drinking water. Wichita and Lawrence have both dealt with taste-and-odor problems in their drinking water drawn from Cheney and Clinton Reservoirs, respectively.

Mark Jakubauskas 8 years, 3 months ago

LogicMan - Dredging is but one solution, and perhaps not always the best one. We estimated that the area sedimented in at the north end of Perry Lake had accumulated almost 100 million cubic yards of silt.....and dredging costs run about $5 a cubic yard, last I was told. Mission Lake up in Horton, a 125-acre lake, is currently being dredged at a cost of several million dollars.
There are many solutions - dredging, raising the water level, building sediment traps at the inflow, flushing the reservoir, building new reservoirs - each situation is different based on the location of the reservoir, the needs of the region, the geography (climate, soils), and finances. But which approach is best for a given lake ? Are the lakes silting in at a constant rate ? Or is it episodic ? Has the rate accelerated - or slowed - in recent years ? These questions have serious ramifications; for example, when Horton was planning to dredge Mission Lake, the former city manager asked me, "So, if we invest all this money in dredging it - is it all gonna fill back in next year ?" In short, will the dollars that the citizens of Horton invest to restore this lake be a good long-term investment for the economic development of the town ?

LogicMan 8 years, 2 months ago

"LogicMan - Dredging is but one solution"

Whatever works, dredging, or draining and hauling. Just don't spend it on more "studies"; far too much hand-wringing these last few decades. Get the work done instead!

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