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The Kansan - Newton, KS
  • Kent Bush: Hoping, praying for rain soon

  • The drought and Augusta’s water problems were the biggest story of the past year. Unless things change significantly very soon, they will be again this year.
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  • Not having enough water is a tough problem to solve.
    As the City of Augusta has discovered, most realistic solutions come with a hefty price tag and a timeline of about two years.
    Augusta has dealt with water rationing and drought for a couple of years in a row and the city is taking action to prepare for the long term. Short-term drought issues may start affecting far some cities who haven’t dealt with an issue like this in generations.
    There is really nothing you can do about it except prepare yourself.
    The City of Derby recently announced watering restrictions.
    Wichita and Sedgwick County officials are keeping a close eye on water supplies as every dry day passes.
    If the below average precipitation and above average temperatures forecast for this spring materialize, areas affected by the drought will expand and when the normally hot and dry summer months get here, there won’t be any good options.
    Augusta can take about 2.5 million gallons per day from El Dorado without putting undue stress on the old water delivery system. In the winter months, that is more than enough. In the summer, it is not unusual at all to see 3-4 million gallons used.
    If Santa Fe Lake and the City Lake are both at or below current levels, there will be no backup plan for Augusta and 2.5 million will be all that is available. That means no outdoor watering at any time.
    And if there were a delivery system problem like a break in the line, if could mean no water at all for a significant period of time.
    I lived through that in my hometown of Chickasha, OK.
    Chickasha brings water in from a town about 35 miles away. When a 36-inch line breaks, it usually doesn’t take long to identify the location of the break because of water shooting out of the ground or a wash out below the pipe.
    But one summer day, the water main broke where the line crossed the river. Water stopped coming to Chickasha and no one could figure out why. Before the emergency was over, the National Guard was providing potable water at several sites around the city.
    We had to truck water in from a neighboring town to run our press.
    Flushing a toilet became a luxury item.
    No one wants to be in that situation. We should be hoping and praying that rains come quickly and often soon and recharge the bodies of water we need for survival.
    Until then, the Augusta city staff and governing city staff are looking for solutions now so that they are ready if the worst-case scenario becomes a reality.
    Page 2 of 2 - The drought and Augusta’s water problems were the biggest story of the past year. Unless things change significantly very soon, they will be again this year.
     
     
    Kent Bush is the publisher of The Augusta Daily Gazette, The El Dorado Times, and The Andover American newspapers. He can be reached at:publisher@augustagazette.com.
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