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.”


juma 5 years, 7 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..

tomatogrower 5 years, 7 months ago

We have more water here is Lawrence than in western Kansas, but most people I know already conserve water without the city telling us to. In fact many people I know don't water at all. They just let their grass go dormant. Do you do that in the west? What a rude post.

Greg Cooper 5 years, 7 months ago

You are the most senseless, thoughtless person on this forum. If you have anything, I mean anything, sensible to say, or can offer a solution, or just anything of value, please offer it. But to denigrate everything and everyone isn't funny, it's pathetic, and, I assume, mirrors the uselessness and emptiness of your life.

Have a nice day.

bigdave 5 years, 7 months ago

Sound like your panty's got caught in the middle!!! LOL!

del888 5 years, 7 months ago

I go to western Kansas alot. I see the farmers watering huge fields of corn and wheat every day. Do you ever drive on I-70 outside of Hays?

Tara Painter 5 years, 7 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.

bornon7 5 years, 7 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!!

Leslie Swearingen 5 years, 7 months ago

Things that are green and beautiful are nice to have, but I think she should face the reality that this year is not a good time for them. Please stop watering the flowers and yards and think about essentials.

Steve Miller 5 years, 7 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.

Steve Miller 5 years, 7 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 ..

kuguardgrl13 5 years, 7 months ago

The city would have angry callers with Wester already raising rates with the heat. My utilities haven't been this high all year. Thankfully Black Hills isn't taking advantage of things, but it's not their time of year.

juma 5 years, 7 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.

Leslie Swearingen 5 years, 7 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.

chzypoof1 5 years, 7 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....


sleepy33 5 years, 7 months ago

How helpful would a de-salination plant be in Lawrence, KS?

Mike George 5 years, 7 months ago

In many countries around the world, there are desalinization plants on the coasts that pump water through huge pipelines hundreds of miles inland. Why don't you bother to inform yourself instead of assuming the negative?

sleepy33 5 years, 7 months ago

Why do you assume I'm assuming anything negative? I simply asked a question. You answered it. Isn't the point of discussions like this so that we can all inform ourselves?

bigdave 5 years, 7 months ago

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

cowboy 5 years, 7 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.

Mark Currie 5 years, 7 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.

Kirk Larson 5 years, 7 months ago

A couple gallons of water is probably not doing any good for the trees. You should hope that their roots are getting deep enough to reach ground water. That little bit of surface water might even be slowing deep growth and thus doing them harm.

kernal 5 years, 7 months ago

I decided to let mine die and when, or if, the drought ends next year most of it will be changed to xeroscape. But, I do deep water the trees once every six to eight weeks, which should be sufficient since they are 6 years old and were deep watered last year. Also keeping the shrubs up against the foundation mulched and watered so the foundation won't crack.

MarcoPogo 5 years, 7 months ago

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

PennyBrite 5 years, 7 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.


bklonnie 5 years, 7 months ago

Did you know that Lawrence is not a 1,000 x 1,000 sq. ft. plot of land? The little storms that came through Wednesday night were fairly small in size. I have a rain gauage, and it recorded 1.06". I am on the NW edge of town. The Lawrence Airport is North-central. Not everyone gets exactly the same amount as what's recorded at the airport. Same thing with wind/temp/humidity/etc.

You would think most people could understand this basic concept.

Ken Lassman 5 years, 7 months ago

Where is that? In central Douglas County, I got around a quarter inch. My mom said back in the 30s, showers would follow the Kaw valley while those living south of town would just watch.

SnakeFist 5 years, 7 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.

SnakeFist 5 years, 7 months ago

Pompous, maybe, but not empty of meaning. Many of those complaining about the drought and its effect on their lawns and flowers (and soon on the cost of food) deny climate change and do nothing to conserve. In fact, many of them seem to insist that waste is a God-given American right.

hedshrinker 5 years, 7 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.

melott 5 years, 7 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.

Horatio Bfor 5 years, 7 months ago

Exactly. I could see a city truck with a water tank watering flowers in a round-about today. I will keep watering my plants at home. I have made a decision water around my foundation and keep the new trees from dieing. The water costs less than new trees.

20yrtransplant 5 years, 7 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.

Tomato 5 years, 7 months ago

There's this nifty invention called a rain gauge. Lots of people own them. They cost about five dollars. You can even get ones held by little gnomes. Be careful though - those fancy gnomes drive the cost up to about ten dollars.

bklonnie 5 years, 7 months ago

From your comment above, it sounded like you were suggesting that the entire city got 0.53". Most people would take that "we" in the comment to mean "we" as in Lawrence. Especially since you were referncing the rainfall amount reported by the main weather station in Lawrence at the airport.

Leslie Swearingen 5 years, 7 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.

bklonnie 5 years, 7 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.

Horatio Bfor 5 years, 7 months ago

People have the right to maintain their property poorly. We don't need to restrict usage unless we are having a supply issue.

kuguardgrl13 5 years, 7 months ago

When I lived in Minnesota, the city required that residents could only water their lawns on even dates (like the 20th of the month) if their house number was an even number, and odd numbered houses could water on odd days. This is the rule nearly every summer, and you are fined if you water on the wrong day. So automated systems have to be reset for months with 31 days. Granted, Minnesota has over 10,000 lakes, three major rivers, and the temps peak in the 80s and 90s, but they still make a point to conserve water for the rest of the country. With the lack of winter, it's no wonder we're having drought problems as the rivers in the Dakotas and Minnesota didn't flood like they usually do because there wasn't nearly as much snow as usual. So accept that you're perfectly manicured lawn is not going to be that way, buying flowers was a waste, and conserve water for what is left of the crops. Or better yet, save water so you can drink it and stay hydrated. Make sure your children and pets are drinking too.

kernal 5 years, 7 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.

kuguardgrl13 5 years, 7 months ago

or late in the evening. that works too. like 9:00 while it's just getting dark.

Christine Pennewell Davis 5 years, 7 months ago

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

DillonBarnes 5 years, 7 months ago

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

Bailey Perkins 5 years, 7 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.....

pace 5 years, 7 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.

Tomato 5 years, 7 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.

roadwarrior 5 years, 7 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.

honestone 5 years, 7 months ago

Why of course I will leave water out for all of the "pets" people let wander in my yard. If they won't care for their animals...I guess I will

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