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We need to wake up; when the water is gone, it’s gone E-mail
Thursday, 15 May 2014 10:10

By Charles and Starley Craig, Liberal


The May 12 issue of the Leader & Times had an article about two farmers from Sublette filing an “impairment claim” against junior water wells being used to irrigate crops. This suit was first filed in 2005 but was dropped because of pressure from the community.

Congratulations and gratitude to the men who can see beyond the next four months’ crops.

I was in a conversation with a very prominent Liberal man when the ethanol plant was being built over the amount of water that would be used to benefit a few at the expense of the whole area. We can buy ethanol from Brazil cheaper than we can make it here, but that’s not the point.

This gentleman turned to me and said seriously, “We have unlimited water here.”

I was so astounded I could not even form a reply other than to say we didn’t have unlimited anything here.

Another city commissioner told me not to worry about water as we have “at least 250 years of supply at current usage rates.”

Both statements are inane to the point of idiocy.

The aquifer needs 10 years of normal rainfall to put 1 inch into it. Last year, it dropped over 10 feet.

When it is gone, then we cannot live here, no industry will come and the land, which other than being flat, is really not suitable for high-water-usage crops, and it will blow away again.

The “hills” between Garden City and Liberal are blown dirt. They have been there nearly 100 years and are still not covered by even hardy tumbleweeds.

Breaking up marginal land in the hopes that in another four months we’ll be able to see income is understandable but so short-sighted as to make you cry.

I have seen 6-inch corn stalks sticking up out of 2 inches of water with tops exposed to desert heat and wind and dead as a door nail.

The meat we raise in horrible confined feeding operations goes to foreign countries leaving the more expensive cuts in the manger’s special bin at the grocery store.

No one waters trees here. The city’s beautiful trees at the back of the parking lot all died. The trees planted at Friendship Baptist Church died.

The town is full of dead trees, bushes and brown lawns where only weeds manage to keep alive.

Ninety-eight percent of all water used in Kansas is used in irrigation to grow subsidized crops. That leaves 2 percent to maintain our towns and the people who live here.

Kansas is losing population every year. Maybe those people don’t want to be here to see if the wildly optimistic plan of 50 years of water touted by Brownback is going to work.

I’d bet we have a very few years – less than a dozen – to change our mind set. Run free-range cattle. Use very limited irrigation to grow pistachio trees (the profit is enormous, and they are desert bred) or organic fruits.

When the water is gone, it’s gone. No government plan can replace it. Keep in mind it took less than 50 years for the world’s largest gas field to disappear.

But you can’t drink gas or money or blood from a rendering plant.

If you’d like to no who thinks we have “unlimited water” or “250 years of water,” call me. I may tell you.



The following is directly from the Kansas Geological Society, considered the foremost authority on the High Plains Aquifer in Kansas:

“It is important to remember that the aquifer is not one consistent, homogeneous unit. Rather, it varies considerably from place to place. In places, the aquifer consists of less than 50 feet of saturated thickness and receives little recharge. In other places, the aquifer is far thicker or receives considerably more recharge.”

The projections from the Kansas Geological Survey show about a third of Seward County (the northwest corner) will have minimal thresholds of water for 60 to 100 years, and another third (central strip) of the county may have from 100 to 250 years of water available. The last third, in southeast Seward is projected to have water for more than 250 years, and Liberal sits on the edge of the 100 to 250 years and 250 years and more line. (See figure below)

Go to: http://www.kgs.ku.edu/Publications/pic18/index.html for complete information published by the KGS.

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About The High Plains Daily Leader

The High Plains Daily Leader and Southwest Daily Times are published Sunday through Friday and reaches homes throughout the Liberal, Kansas retail trade zone. The Leader & Times is the official newspaper of Seward County, USD No. 480, USD No. 483 and the cities of Liberal and Kismet.  The Leader & Times is a member of the Liberal Chamber of Commerce, the Kansas Press Association and the Associated Press.

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