Future of Kansas water resources focus of conference

(WIBW) - Gov. Sam Brownback encouraged Kansans to remain focused on a sustainable water future.

His comments came at Wednesday's annual water conference.

Brownback first called for a 50 year Water Vision Plan four years ago. He made conserving and restoring water resources a top priority for his administration.

“Kansans must act on a shared commitment to have the water resources necessary to support the state’s social, economic and natural resource needs for not only our current generation but most importantly our children and grandchildren," Brownback said.

Some 600 conference attendees in Manhattan heard updates Wednesday on the vision plan's implementation.

Officials say 164 streambanks have been stabilized, however there are more than 600 still to go. Those efforts are aimed at keeping reservoirs from losing water storage capacity.

Also, western Kansas continues establishing conservation networks to better manage groundwater supplies.

“(T)his Vision process was set in motion by the Governor when he asked us to look long-term for water supply across the state, and for sustainability in the Ogallala aquifer. Water supply challenges are not an issue confined to one user group – they are not confined to one area of the state,” Kansas Water Office Director Tracy Streeter said in a statement about the event. “It is a challenge that crosses state agency lines and we will continue to push forward as this Vision is integrated into our existing Water Plan.”

Among other speakers Wednesday were Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer and Jim Gulliford, EPA Region 7 Administrator. The day also featured presentation of the Water Legacy Award to Pat Sauble, 96. Sauble was chosen for helping establish the Kansas Watershed Association and for his work as director of the Kansas Association of Conservation Districts.

The conference continues Thursday.