Saturday, December 20, 2014

Missouri River aqueduct a terrible solution to water shortage


Building a 360-mile aqueduct to carry water from the Missouri River to irrigate crops in western Kansas has to be one of the most ludicrous ideas we’ve heard in the last, well, 31 years.

In 1982, Kansas studied the idea of building the canal from near White Cloud to Utica, which is about 50 miles southwest of Hays in Ness County. The cost at that time was estimated at $3.6 billion, but now it could cost from $12.5 billion to $25 billion. The study would make that determination.

The study itself would cost $300,000 and take 18 months to complete. It is a waste of money — the study alone, not to mention even thinking about the cost of building such a thing.

More importantly, it is a completely irresponsible idea. States fighting over water from the nation’s rivers are what got Kansas into litigation with Colorado and Nebraska and such perverted consumption of water resources as Nebraska drilling wells to pump water into the Republican River to satisfy the demands of Kansas.

And now Kansas wants to transport water from the Missouri River to water crops in a place otherwise unsuited for corn and crops requiring irrigation?

Kansas water officials say the idea would be a solution to the depletion of the Ogallala Aquifer in western Kansas. It’s a terrible solution for that. Gov. Sam Brownback has the right solution — curtailing water use by irrigators. It’s painful, but it is the right and responsible course of action.

Kansas Water Office Director Tracy Streeter said that the aqueduct would be used to divert water at high flow or flood times on the Missouri River and alleviate downstream flooding on the Missouri. If so, then this should be viewed as a flood control project, but in such case Kansas wouldn’t spend such money on it.

Forget about this folly. The idea should be permanently shelved.

We don’t solve a water waste problem by dreaming up an expensive way to waste more water.

— The Hutchinson News

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