Worthwhile fee

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

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.