water

HAYS, Kansas — A few years ago, Stuart Beckman drove 65 miles with a neighbor to attend a wedding in Saint Francis in the northwest corner of Kansas.

The two farmers weren’t particularly welcome. 

“They found out where we were from,” Beckman said, “and they just about ran us out of there.”

Not surprisingly for this part of the High Plains, the trouble started over water.

Brian Grimmett / Kansas News Service

KINSLEY, Kansas — In the late 1980s, drought left the wells that supply water to the city of Hays and Russell in western Kansas precariously low. The near-catastrophe sent city leaders on the hunt for more water.

“We were just trying to survive from one year to the next,” former Hays mayor and city councilman Eber Phelps said.

GARDEN CITY, Kansas — For almost three months, people living in a mobile home neighborhood just east of Garden City’s limits haven’t been able to drink their tap water.

Residents could boil their water to drink and cook. But on June 30, a new health order advised households not to use the water for drinking, cooking, making baby formula or brushing teeth.

Brian Grimmett/Kansas News Service

WICHITA, Kansas — About 150,000 people in Kansas get their drinking water from private wells.

How clean, and safe, is that water? Short answer: It depends.

But new research suggests those wells deliver water tainted with a range of pollutants. Some leaked from dry cleaning operations. Yet far more wells soak up, and deliver to taps, fertilizer that’s been building up in Kansas soil and water over generations of modern farming.

Brian Grimmett / Kansas News Service

ST. JOHN, Kansas — Water — who gets to use it, when and how — sparks fights all over the world.

The latest battleground is in south-central Kansas, near the federally operated Quivira National Wildlife Refuge.

In its simplest form, it’s a clash between the refuge, which isn’t getting its legal share of water, and the local farmers who may be forced to cut back on how much water they use on their crops.

Laura Nawrocik / flickr Creative Commons

Wichita residents and businesses will see their water and sewer rates go up next year.

City council members on Tuesday approved a 5% increase to help pay for a new water treatment plant.

TOPEKA, Kansas — What if researchers could go to a single hub for vast deposits of information on a range of issues from water quality to court rulings to the medicinal powers of marijuana?

Armed with all that existing research, they might begin to draw conclusions that apply across the country. They might also avoid repeating the work of other researchers.

Brian Grimmett / Kansas News Service

HARTFORD, Kansas — Some of Kansas’ major reservoirs are filling up with sediment, and if something isn’t done to address the issue, parts of eastern Kansas could see water shortages and insufficient flood control as soon as 30 years from now.

To help slow down the slow, but consistent, reduction of usable water storage in Kansas’ reservoirs, the Kansas Water Office is trying to help farmers in critical areas upstream of the lakes to reduce the water running off from their fields.

But if that isn’t widely accepted, state officials say taxpayers may have to pay millions more just to keep the water flowing.

Nomin Ujiyediin / Kansas News Service file photo

WICHITA, Kansas — The water coming out of your tap might meet legal standards, but that doesn’t mean that it’s safe to drink — at least according to the Environmental Working Group, an environmental advocacy nonprofit.

EWG found that nearly all of the 870 water utilities in Kansas tested for at least one contaminate above what it considers safe, though most water utilities in the state meet federal standards, which are different than EWG’s. 

Brian Grimmett / Kansas News Service

WICHITA — Toxic blue-green algal blooms have been causing major problems on Kansas’ lakes since about 2010.

Because the pond scum can make people sick, the lakes became out of bounds for swimmers and the like.

Yet now the phenomenon is costing Kansans money. It’s infiltrating city water systems, triggering slightly more expensive treatments to keep drinking water safe.

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