While emergency management officials are focusing on preparations for snow and ice, state officials are urging water districts to review and update plans for reacting to the drought, which is expected to continue into 2013.
With all 105 Kansas counties still under a drought emergency, most of the state’s public water supply systems already have conservation and drought emergency plans, said Kansas Water Office director Tracy Streeter.
“We would encourage cities and rural water districts to review those plans based on their drought experience this last year and update them if needed,” Streeter said. “In addition, the state updated its drought plan this last year and will continue to monitor the situation.”
Water conservation and drought response plans are developed at the local level to meet the needs of individual systems’ users and their local supply, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported. Streeter said each local water supplier is responsible for monitoring the water supply and making appropriate reductions to meet citizens’ needs.
“It is important to emphasize the message that all Kansans play a role in water conservation and drought mitigation,” Streeter said. “We encourage them to take appropriate steps to be prepared for continued drought if they haven’t done so already.”
Kansas Department of Agriculture Secretary Dale Rodman also is carefully watching the state’s water supply.
“We can’t make it rain,” Rodman said, “but we can work together across state government and with our partners in Kansas and in the federal government to assure all Kansans have access to necessary tools to respond to the drought today and prepare for the future.”
Dave Sterbenz, emergency management director in Shawnee County, said officials have begun talking about what measures might be needed if the drought continues in preparation for the “worst-case scenario.”
Sterbenz said some lake and reservoir levels near Topeka are critically low, causing some discussion of installing pumps to help release the water into area streams and rivers.
“I think people even now need to start looking at water usage,” Sterbenz said. “It’s an individual responsibility.”