Letters to the Editor

Letter: Don’t blame nature

January 8, 2014


To the editor:

Saturday, the Salina Journal reprinted an editorial from the Lawrence Journal-World that addressed the proposal to build an aqueduct that would move water from the Missouri River to western Kansas. The editorial observed that “five years of drought in the western third of the state have taken their toll on the aquifer.”

The western third of the state has not seen five years of drought. The 12-month standardized precipitation index, a measure of departure from normal, shows that two of the last five – 2009 and 2010 – actually were slightly wetter than normal. The next two — 2011 and 2012 — tended toward drier than normal. Only 2013 had a significant number of drought months.

The Palmer Drought Severity Index gives a similar perspective — mild drought in 2011 and 2012, moderate in 2013.

It’s no mystery what is really taking a toll on the aquifer: over-appropriation. The state of Kansas started issuing water rights in the 1940s. By 1967, the quantity of groundwater appropriated west of Hutchinson equaled the annual recharge. By 1976, groundwater appropriations were double annual recharge. Today they approach three times annual recharge.

Let’s not be blaming nature for the problems we create ourselves.


Richard Heckler 4 years, 5 months ago

We're likely talking hog and cattle farms. The giant commercial hog and cattle stockyards require tons and tons of water. Not fiscal responsible use of water.

Western Kansas does not have excess water it's a fact. If a business needs water that business should locate near water not hundreds of miles away. Duh....

Remember Sam Brownback is from Washington D.C.

Chris Golledge 4 years, 5 months ago

Richard, Here, take a satellite look around, say, Goodland. http://goo.gl/maps/9Rg1j See those green circles? Those are irrigated fields. I see a lot more irrigated fields than hog or cattle yards. Not sure how you plan for these farmers to move their land closer to water, and I'm pretty sure that the wetter land suitable for farming is already in use.

Chris Golledge 4 years, 5 months ago

Having said that, I'm not sure about the last 5 years, but I was able to find this without much trouble.

The longest period is 3-year. http://www.hprcc.unl.edu/products/maps/acis/hprcc/ks/36mPNormHPRCC-KS.png

Some parts are down precipitation by 50% over the last 3 years. When you are trying to grow something and you are down precipitation by 50%, you will irrigate more, and in western Kansas that means the Ogallala. http://theparagraph.com/2007/02/the-ogallala-aquifer/

I think that is the point the original article was trying to make.

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