Saturday, November 01, 2014

Turn off political bickering, concentrate on one issue: water

5/16/2014

The perpetual argument over global warming has grown weary and raised some ugly partisan hackles.

It’s a debate with no end, some claiming it was dreamed up by liberal, tree-hugging, environmental extremists. Others say it’s not a matter of if the Earth is truly warming, thereby draining its arctic waters, raising the worldwide sea level and creating vast numbers of tornadoes, earthquakes and floods. They say it’s here already.

The perpetual argument over global warming has grown weary and raised some ugly partisan hackles.

It’s a debate with no end, some claiming it was dreamed up by liberal, tree-hugging, environmental extremists. Others say it’s not a matter of if the Earth is truly warming, thereby draining its arctic waters, raising the worldwide sea level and creating vast numbers of tornadoes, earthquakes and floods. They say it’s here already.

Setting that hot potato aside, there is an issue that faces Kansans in equal measure, and it holds the potential of worldwide consequences.

Water.

It’s a two-syllable word with robust power.

Gov. Sam Brownback sees it as a crisis-in-the-making, and he is right.

He has beefed up the Kansas Water Authority and pushed for legislative funds to keep it on the front burner.

At risk are such rivers as the Neosho which gets its water from the John Redmond Reservoir near Burlington. The lake, barely 50 years old, is 40 percent sedimented, meaning it cannot impound sufficient water to provide adequate downstream flow to places like Burlington, Iola, Chanute, Parsons, Oswego and Chetopa. It needs millions of dollars in dredging work, which will cost more than many highways originally cost when constructed.

Optional water sources for local communities also has become high priorities, even in such towns as Caney which currently is waiting to get a hook-up to a neighboring Chautauqua County rural water district.

Fact is: just name a town in Kansas and its leaders are working with the Kansas Water Authority to seek better options for receiving and keeping water.

At the height of natural resources in Kansas is the well-known Ogallala Aquifer, which is the life blood of western and central Kansas. From this underground river flows water that supplies communities, rural water districts and crop irrigation. Without such irrigation, western Kansas could turn back to semi-arid ground, drying up wheat and corn production, and adversely impacting livestock production in that region.

The aquifer yields 30 percent of the nation’s irrigated groundwater.

Kansas alone pumps more than 1.3 trillion gallons annually from the aquifer, more than enough to fill Grand Lake in nearby northeast Oklahoma 10 times.

Brownback’s forward thinking is applaudable, because so far, water has not become the partisan football that we have witnessed with the global warming issue.

Kansas State University is seeking unparalleled funding to study the Kansas water challenge and help implement workable rules that will make the aquifer last longer.

All we must do is look at the African continent to see how a lack of water has turned into political and cultural unrest — eventually resulting in civil war.

When water spigots run dry, entire countries turn into wastelands.

Our debates need to stay intelligent, especially when it comes to water. It remains our most valuable resource, not only in Kansas, but throughout the world.

— The Montgomery County Chronicle,

Caney, Kansas

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