Water

Farmers and ranchers from the Midwest and Plains states were among those who testified before the U.S. Senate agriculture committee Tuesday. Many objected to a proposed change to the rules on how the federal government oversees waterways.

Nearly a year ago, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed a change to the Clean Water Act that it says would clarify its authority over certain wetlands and streams. But Iowa Republican Sen. Charles Grassley, who serves on the agriculture committee, says the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule has met strong opposition in farm country.

Eric Durban / Harvest Public Media

Eber Phelps was a member of the Hays City Commission in 1991 when two of the city’s water wells went dry, sucking up nothing but air.

Until then, Hays had little comprehensive plan to save water. The city dug wells here and there and let residents do what they pleased with their plumbing systems.

That all changed when the wells went dry.

Greg L at English Wikipedia / Wikimedia Commons

Who's digging in the street outside your window? Hopefully, it's Kansas City Water Services.

The city recently embarked on a major, multi-billion-dollar overhaul of the combined sewer and wastewater system, which was first laid out in the nineteenth century.

Four years into the overhaul, officials from the Water Services Department visited the Central Standard studios to remind us why we're doing this in the first place, and to let us know how it's going so far. 

Kansas Poetry / Flickr-CC

You've heard about how farmers in western Kansas have faced drought problems, but you might not know that the drought can affect the water supply here in Kansas City.

In the second part of Tuesday's Up to Date, we take a look at the drought's far-reaching effects and what actions could fix the problem.

Guest:

  • Josh Swatty, vice president of the Land Institute
Kelsey Proud / St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri Clean Water Commission has approved a sweeping regulatory overhaul of the state's water quality standards.

In a vote held Wednesday, the governor-appointed seven-person panel unanimously approved revised regulations that greatly expand the number of protected water bodies in the state. An additional 2,100 lakes and 90,000 miles of rivers and streams will gain protection under the law, including specific limits on bacteria and other pollutants.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

The Kansas Water Office is preparing to take a fresh look at the idea of transferring surplus Missouri River Water to Western Kansas, where the underground aquifer is being rapidly depleted. 

The study will update a 1982 feasibility study by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Their report proposed a 360-mile canal with 16 pump stations to propel the water uphill to western Kansas. They estimated the cost at around $8 billion in 1977. 

Frank Morris / Harvest Public Media

The drought, now in its third year in parts of western Kansas is taxing a resource that has been under pressure for decades: the High Plains Aquifer system.

The aquifer is enormous, but it’s running low in places, forcing a move to dry land farming, and farmers aren’t the only ones effected.

The drought has been burning up crops, lawns and trees for three years now. But there are places where you wouldn’t even know it’s dry, like at the Garden City Big Pool, in Garden City, Kan.

Frank Morris / Harvest Public Media

Imagine enough water to fill a couple of great lakes, but spread under some of the driest parts of eight western states. That was the High Plains Aquifer 60 years ago, before new pumping and irrigation systems made it easy for farmers to extract billions of gallons from it, and use it to grow lucrative crops on the arid land.

An agricultural gold rush of sorts followed, transforming the regional economy. But now parts of the aquifer are playing out, leaving parts of the high plains high and dry.

Bill Wheelhouse / Harvest Public Media

In the small town of Staunton, Ill., the new $9 million water plant is a welcome addition. After all, when the 80-year-old facility it replaces seized up last year, the community’s 5,000 residents were without water for five days.

But for Staunton’s part-time mayor Craig Neuhaus, the plant represents more than water security. He expects the water system upgrade to help bring business to this town about 40 miles north of St. Louis.

Swimming for Health and Fitness

May 18, 2012
Photo by Tomeka Weatherspoon

Local triathlete John Aust discusses fitness swimming, pool rehab and working in aquatics at UMKC's Swinney Recreation Center.

Plus, hear from a married couple that's been coming to Swinney for well over a decade. Almost as long as they've been retired.

Swimming & Pools

May 16, 2012
Photo by Tomeka Weatherspoon

On Thursday’s Central Standard, it’s the final chapter in our three part series on how we seek out water. Part one was fountains. Then, we looked to local lakes and rivers. Now, we’re going to explore a childhood classic: swimming pools. Well, swimming and pools.

Boating & Fishing On KC Waters

May 9, 2012
Bill Anderson / KCUR

On  Thursday’s Central Standard, we embark on the next installment in our three-part series looking at how we find water in our city. This time we look to the lakes and rivers, where fishers cast their nets, canoes glide across the water and boaters set sail.

Flickr user Clearly Ambiguous / Creative Commons

As of May 1, 2012, Kansas City, Mo. residents can expect higher rates on water usage and wastewater (sanitary sewer) services.

There may be no controlling Mother Nature, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get your garden to cooperate. But keeping your gardening blossoming instead of browning is easier said than done.