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Officials discuss water issues facing Kansas at conference

By Corene Brisendine

The value of water is increasing as the Ogallala Aquifer and other water sources are depleted, a K-State assistant professor said during a conference Wednesday.

Bill Golden, research assistant professor in agricultural economics at Kansas State University said the aquifer eventually will run dry. As a result, the value of water not only to agricultural users but also to others — including industrial and domestic users — will increase.

“I’m not saying it will run out next year, but in the next 40 to 50 years, it is going to go dry,” he said. “So, we need to start conservation efforts now in order to extend and preserve the life of the aquifer.”

Golden said that this decreasing water supply will affect how the water will be used in the future, including changing the main agricultural and farming products produced in western Kansas. He said production will probably shift from crop-based to beef-based production.

His presentation was part of the two-day Governor’s Conference on the Future of Water in Kansas, which began Tuesday at the Hilton Garden Inn and Conference Center.

State officials and water experts from across the nation met to discuss issues of water conservation, quality, infrastructure, sediment control and more.

On Tuesday, Governor Sam Brownback spoke, saying that the driving force behind conservation efforts is the idea that future generations could see this generation as either the one to step up to the challenge or the one to drop the ball. Other speakers included Sen. Pat Roberts and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Lt. Gen. Thomas Bostick.

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