Political News

Kansas honors farmer, Garden City for water efforts

Posted November 25

— A Finney County businessman and farmer and the city of Garden City have been honored by the state for their work to extend the Ogallala Aquifer.

Tom Willis, who operates two southwest Kansas ethanol plants and has a farm in Finney County, and the city of Garden City were among those honored at the Governor's Water Conference held earlier this month in Manhattan, The Hutchinson News reported (http://j.mp/2fzcfmm ).

Shortly after taking office, Gov. Sam Brownback asked Kansas water users and his staff to develop a plan to preserve and extend the state's water resources. He cited a Kansas State University study that said if nothing changes, 70 percent of the Ogallala will be depleted by 2064.

Willis is one of three across Kansas to establish a Water Technology Farm, a demonstration farm that allows for the installation and testing of the latest irrigation technologies on a whole field scale.

"At the end of three years, if the aquifer under my ground is depleted less, then we could revolutionize the farming process in western Kansas," Willis said in July.

Garden City has also been working with community partners to encourage water reuse for agricultural and industrial purposes, Water Resource Manager Fred Jones said in a release. In 2015, the city committed to use treated effluent from the Dairy Farmers of America milk drying plant that is under construction in Garden City.

"We are actively developing a water-reuse master plan to implement a reuse strategy that will benefit the community by identifying opportunities to offset potable water consumption through municipal and industrial use partnerships," Jones said.

Other recipients include Spirit AeroSystems, which was honored for its collaboration with the city of Wichita to build a 3-mile pipeline connecting the company's manufacturing operations to a city water treatment facility. The project will allow Spirit to buy recycled water directly from the city to help the company run its factory more efficiently and help the community achieve its water conservation goals.

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