Archive for Friday, July 20, 2012

Residents asked to conserve water as drought persists

July 20, 2012


PETE GOANS, OF BALDWIN CITY, fills his water tanks Wednesday. Goans buys 500 gallons from the city of Lawrence daily to water his fields.

PETE GOANS, OF BALDWIN CITY, fills his water tanks Wednesday. Goans buys 500 gallons from the city of Lawrence daily to water his fields.

When Elaine Brewer woke up Thursday morning, she thought she had dreamed about rain. Moisture on her flower garden proved otherwise.

“I thought I was hallucinating,” she said. “I was happy for some free water from the sky.”

Lawrence Municipal Airport reported that 0.53 inches of rain fell early Thursday morning. For Brewer it meant a break from the two to three hours of hand watering flowers. For Lawrence, it meant a brief respite from a bitterly hot summer.

But in the larger picture, the half-inch of rain did little to break the drought. Lawrence remains seven inches below average, having received 14.28 inches of rainfall since Jan. 1, two-thirds of its normal amount.

And there’s no end in sight. Forecasters project a week of 100-plus degree temperatures and only a small chance of rain.

According to Kris Sanders of the National Weather Service in Topeka, it hasn’t been this hot or dry since 1934 and 1936.

“We are getting Dust Bowl-era numbers,” Sanders said.

To deal with this drought, the city of Lawrence has issued a statement asking residents to conserve water.

“The extreme heat and drought conditions we are experiencing should remind us to consider all water use wisely,” City Manager David Corliss said. Corliss added that Lawrence water was in no danger of running out — the Kansas River and Clinton reservoir both feed the city — but residents should take precautions nonetheless.

Pete Goans is one area resident taking water precautions. Goans works at the Heart of America Teen Challenge house, 1332 E. 1600 Road. The house as well as its okra field draw water from an on-property well. To avoid running the well dry, Goans buys 500 gallons from the city of Lawrence daily to water his fields. The water is cheap, 25 cents for 500 gallons, but the 45-minute trip and gasoline are not.

“It’s been so dry this year,” he said. “It was either that or we wouldn’t have a crop at all.”

The weather has made life difficult across the state. Homeowners have higher electric and water bills. The area’s corn crop is all but lost. Soybeans will follow if the dry heat keeps up.

“If you got 0.7 (inches of rain) it might have bought you a few days,” Matthew Vajnar, grain merchandiser at Ottawa Co-op, said on Thursday. “But with the 105 degrees forecasted today and the rest of the week, it will be too little too late.”

If the drought doesn’t break, some farmers might want to find a different profession, such as well-drilling, or foundation repair.

Kent Fry, owner of Concrete Rescue Foundation, said since the drought began his business has increased five-fold. He said the dryness of the last two years has caused the clay soil under many area houses to compact unevenly, cracking foundations and making his services necessary.

Tom Patchen, whose business, Patchen Electric, digs and services wells, said he hasn’t been this busy in his nearly 30 years of working with wells.

“Most of it’s service calls,” he said adding that calls to drill new wells have also been up. “People are just maxing out their pumps and everything.”


roadwarrior 1 year, 9 months ago

Ive been using the sprinkler on rotating sites daily with a two fold purpose. Keeping trees alive and the poor wild animals and birds. Quite a collection of animals getting along together in the sprinkler and at the several sources of fresh water. A sprinkler under the trees can drop the temp by 30 degrees, they clearly appreciate the relief. Don't forget to leave out a bowl of fresh water for our wild friends.


Tomato 1 year, 9 months ago

My rain barrel has been very useful. I wish I had more this year. The nicer ones are expensive though - and I doubt my neighbors want to see trashy rain barrels!

I'll probably invest in a few more though. An inch of rain goes a long way in a rain barrel.


Liberal 1 year, 9 months ago

Given that December 21, 2012 is just a few months away I have decided to let my water run all day, take three showers and flush the toilet every time I walk by. Good bye Sucka's I am off to the Pleiades.


pace 1 year, 9 months ago

The article would be improved by at least a scattering of hints of how to conserve water. It is small but worthwhile to take shorter showers, to remember to turn off the running tap when you brush your teeth. If there are plants you wish to save, you should do spot watering, make sure they are mulched. I wash my vegetables and fruit in a bowl and use that water for my plants. I also toss my dish washing water on my little pawpaw tree. I wish I could drain my washing machine to the south side of my foundation. I might try doing that.


Bailey Perkins 1 year, 9 months ago

If the city allowed residents of West Lawrence to own and operate their own well, this wouldn't be a problem. We've asked and tried to have one dug, but the city said it wasn't permitted in West Lawrence. Want to conserve water? Then allow residents to work around the system.....


DillonBarnes 1 year, 9 months ago

I'll do my part, it's beer from now on!


Christine Pennewell Davis 1 year, 9 months ago

only water veggies early in day way to hot to turn water on and off later.


kernal 1 year, 9 months ago

bklonnie, I have several neighbors who have done the same thing. They cut their grass as short as they can so they don't have to do it as often and end up ruining what were once nice lawns. Then they give it a short twenty to thirty minute sprinkle of water once a week in the middle of the day, which draws the roots closer to the surface as that's where the water that doesn't evaporate stays.

Bet they don't know not to mow shorter than three inches and to water early in the morning.


bklonnie 1 year, 9 months ago

I wish they would actually enforce a watering restriction, instead of making it just a suggestion. I live in a neighborhood where everyone has an irrigation system. Both of my neighbors - left and right - run their systems four times a day, every day! I am not kidding either. The frequent watering mixed with scalping their lawns has created nothing but weeds in both yards. I water once every 4-5 days, even in this heat, and I still have green grass.


Leslie Swearingen 1 year, 9 months ago

Mike, you are scaring me, big time. I think this is going to get a lot worse before it gets better because of people who are going to refuse to change their habits, come hell or high water. (pun intended). I read in the Huffington Post business section that farmers in this area are beginning to cull their cattle because they can't afford to water them. International papers are carrying stories of the American Midwest and the drought. This is going to affect a lot more than just us.


mikekt 1 year, 9 months ago

Mr Corliss.

Call the US Corps of Engineers & tell them to stop draining upstream reservoirs in Kansas, to support barge traffic on the Missouri River ( THEY MUST BE TRYING TO SHIP OUR RECENT BUMPER CORN CROP ? ??? ) because the Mississippi is already too low to navigate at Vicksburg;...... or to get their water from Nebraska & the Dakotas reservoirs, on north, that is not in a total rain drought, for the most part, as we are!

If this makes it to the dust bowl 30s' style drought we will need every bit of that water to make.

In the recent past, large water source lakes in Georgia & Texas, have simply dried up, leaving docks high & dry & cities right up their with them.

Water impounded at Milford, Tuttle Creek & Perry should be let to sit & evaporate ( if it must ) but should not be waisted now, on barges, to further lower those impounded future potential dependable river water sources for Lawrence.

Relatively speaking, the amount of water that Lawrence Ks. uses daily, on a hot day, is tiny compared to the flow required to keep those tow boats & barges moving on the Mo. & Miss. Rivers!

It probably requires more water for just an hour of Barges Traffic, than we use all summer long!

Do you have a plan, Mr Corliss, if the slower flowing river drops silt & silts in our river water intake pipe ?

Do you have a plan, Mr Corliss, if the lake level in Clinton should drop & intakes there need lowering to chase a receding water levels?

Plant intake pumps can only suck water in & up from so far bellow themselves & maybe even might be damaged if the water flow into them is outside of their designed box!

Conservation here is pointless, if the Corps is flushing future water wholesale down the Barge Toilet ( save for the fact that conserves of water - it's pumper electrically -does save electricity for A/C unit use! )

Inquiring Minds Want To Know,.... as opposed to being reassured.... or sent out on a fools errand, while the Corp of Engineers, "asylum runners", torch the building.


RETICENT_IRREVERENT 1 year, 9 months ago

"Did you read the article? It said we received .53" of rain." - KRichards 5 minutes ago

Lawrence International Airport received .53" rain, but parts of Lawrence reported receiving 1" of rain. I sadly, only got .4", but less than 2 miles from me they got .00001".


20yrtransplant 1 year, 9 months ago

Three points.....1- why is city watering Constant Park grass (appears to be new sprinkler system) when asking people to conserve? 2- The city makes revenue from the water dept. 3- I believe the earlier comment about grass dying can often be incorrect in this area.....fescue (commonly used lawn type here) goes dormant in heat and actually is stressed more from watering in current conditions.


melott 1 year, 9 months ago

Why do they want us to conserve, if (as according to the City Manager) we are in no danger of running out? Just asking.


hedshrinker 1 year, 9 months ago

The generally clay soil around here turns to concrete hardness when there's not regular, gentle penetrating rainfall; therefore much of the recent half inch rain may not have even penetrated the ground. Large perennial vegetation has fewer surface methods of absorption and requires deep watering....To be clear, I'm not advocating wasteful watering (aerial spraying much of which evaporates before reaching the ground, especially if there's a wind, indiscriminate watering of pavement, etc), but maintaining critical vegetation is extremely important to keep the soil in place, provide shade, habitat and oxygen as well as aesthetics. Also, I'm as upset as most about the impacts of drought and heat on livestock, but we might think more seriously about the unbelievable planetary costs of daily meat consumption and consider modifying our diets as a conservation act.


SnakeFist 1 year, 9 months ago

I heard on Fox News that there is no drought or heat wave - its all a lie by communists who want to control our water usage. So conserve if you want, but the commies will have to pry my water hose from my cold dead fingers.

Now I'm going to drive my Hummer to the store to stock up on old-style lightbulbs before the commies take those away too.


PennyBrite 1 year, 9 months ago

Night before last, we received over an inch of rain. Yesterday after lunch (the day after the rain) a city employee was out watering shrubs down at the city building east of Spring Hill Suites.



MarcoPogo 1 year, 9 months ago

Sorry, I've been out on the Slip 'n' Slide all day. What did I miss?


Keith Richards 1 year, 9 months ago

Just a reminder that lawns will go dormant but without water for more than 2 weeks and they will start dying. Meaning you will have weeds and no lawn next year. Then you will have to re-seed, fertilize and water even more than if you had just watered a decent amount once a week.


eugunieum 1 year, 9 months ago

The only thing I worry about watering outside are the 5 trees the City Mandated be placed in my yard. (new sub division) they are nice trees and we only give them a couple gallons a day. I agree with the indoor conservation too. Shutting off water when brushing teeth etc. The toilet has just got to be flushed though, at least for me. It is a 1.6 gal flush toilet. I too hate seeing sprinkler systems running when it is 105. Also so many water the street. I don't think the street is going to grow. Ok, I will shut up now.


cowboy 1 year, 9 months ago

Lawrence forced most people not to water with rate increases....while your lawn dies and now your trees , and your foundation cracks costing 15,000 to repair , remember $300 bucks worth of water over the summer would have saved all of the above.


bigdave 1 year, 9 months ago

If it's yellow, let it mellow. If it's brown, flush it down!!


Richard Payton 1 year, 9 months ago

Should I flush that is the question?


chzypoof1 1 year, 9 months ago

For all of you with your good ideas, we already HAVE a 2 tiered water bill. We pay quite a bit for going over a certain amount. If people use more water, they pay a premium. And Lawrence is NOT running out of water. This is a scare tactic to get everyone to buy into "Green" tech.

How come no one ever complains that we don't have more de-salination plants? The earth is 73% water. There's plenty of water...we just gotta work on getting it potable.

Someone help come up with something feasible, rather than overbilling people....

Just a thought....



Leslie Swearingen 1 year, 9 months ago

People should also think about how much water they use inside the home, simple things like turning off the water when brushing teeth, or not letting it run when you go to do something else and come back. Think how much water you pour out when you are cooking, do a full load of laundry, that sort of thing. You can be cautious about water use and still take that shower and be clean.


juma 1 year, 9 months ago

I am not being rude; but will be if people keep wasting a shared resource. And, yes, a two-tiered water usage rate is very effective; also used in Hays year-round. If anyone thinks we have plenty of water in Eastern Kansas then I suggest they get up from the computer and drive around with eyes open. Rivers are down; reservoirs are drying up and Eastern Kansas does not have an abundance of groundwater. Only stating that the city/county must regulate usage; just as the right to extract water is regulated.


Steve Miller 1 year, 9 months ago

PLus if done that way, there are no rules for use necessary, it will just naturally happen when the water bills is 4 or 5 times higher.. Try it you'll like it ..


Steve Miller 1 year, 9 months ago

Theres one way to limit water useage, do to the water wasters as the markets do to the farmer, triple the price of quad the price and see how much less is used. And make no exceptions.


bornon7 1 year, 9 months ago

Who in their right mind hand waters their FLOWERS for several hours a day?! What a shameful waste!! Crops and cattle are near death, but gotta keep those day lilies alive!!


caton1982 1 year, 9 months ago

I think if you need to save water ask the those with auto sprinklers to turn them off or limit them to only three times a week. Why does the gass station need to water what little yard they have twice a day. Its not the people with homes wasting water. I know the low income families are not wasting as we try to save in every way we can.


juma 1 year, 9 months ago

Dear Mr. Corliss, Many towns in Western Kansas are way ahead of the 'intellectual' Lawrence. Call Hays and get a copy of the city code on residential watering in the summer. No watering in the daytime, no sprinklers shooting good water to the sky when it is 105 and windy. No sprinklers pouring water into the street for hours on end. etc. etc..


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