Archive for Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Letter: No easy choices

November 14, 2012


To the editor:

The Nov. 7 Lawrence Journal-World editorial, regarding the new Bowersock hydropower plant in Lawrence, asks if it is reasonable, should drought conditions persist, for the Bowersock plant to release “900 million gallons of water ultimately” from the Kansas River system upon which people depend, to drive the turbines to produce clean, renewable energy, when the same electricity “could be generated easily by coal-fired or nuclear plants.”

From the Union of Concerned Scientists website: “A typical 500-megawatt coal-fired power plant draws about 2.2 billion gallons of water each year from nearby water bodies, such as lakes, rivers, or oceans, to create steam for turning its turbines. This is enough water to support a city of approximately 250,000 people.”

From an Aug. 27, 2012, Journal-World article: “Wolf Creek (Nuclear Power Plant) officials said the dwindling water levels at nearby John Redmond Reservoir … could make it difficult for the plant to operate if the drought continues for many months. … The lake plays an important role in providing water to cool the reactor.”

The time has come for Kansans and global citizens to address seriously the unavoidable triad of water use, energy usage and climate change. Even oceans are not necessarily reliable water sources, as evidenced by the Fukushima nuclear disaster, following an earthquake and tsunami near Japan in 2011. It may be not entirely accurate to categorize any solutions to these issues as easy.


Ken Lassman 3 years ago

Excellent letter. Even more to the point: The Lawrence Energy Center also draws water from the Kaw to the tune of 1.5 billion gallons annually, the Tecumseh power plant near Topeka pulls 992 million gallons from the Kaw, and Jeffrey Energy Center west and north of Topeka draws some 10.7 billion gallons of water from the Kaw watershed. All of these facts plus the fact that the Bowersock Dam also provides a needed pool so that the Lawrence water plant can draw out water for at least half of Lawrence to drink, and that the Lawrence intake will benefit from the raised water levels of the improved dam really makes me wonder if the grumpy editorial was based on sour grapes or just an uniformed writer?

Ken Lassman 3 years ago

Oops: I meant UNINFORMED writer--no malfeasance was intended toward our men and women in uniform! No malfeasance was meant toward uninformed writers either, for that matter....

James Cooley 3 years ago

Sorry, it was your speculation, not Laurie's. Thanks for the support.

James Cooley 3 years ago

As DC noted and I pointed out in my letter on Sat. the 10th, the water is still there and available for both Lawrence residents and people living downstream. If you have been down to the river in the past week, you will have noticed that the river level above the dam is at least two feet higher. The water was simply moved from one or more upstream lakes down to the mill pond where it makes possible power generation from the current and future river flows. The 9 million gallons will always be there short of a breach in the dam or near complete cession of river flow. I suspect your speculations about the original editorial are both correct.

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