Most Kansas residents are aware of the drought and subsequent water restrictions that occurred in the past year. Members of the Bourbon County Conservation District, who are well acquainted with the intricacies of Bourbon County’s water supply, stopped by today’s Bourbon County Commissioners’ meeting in order to provide information on water conservation and to request funding for the upcoming year. Conservation District member Dean Bailey introduced those on the panel, including Mandy Shoemaker, Kathy Valentine, Ronnie Brown and Wayne Thorpe. Brown announced that the orgnanization’s budget remains balanced. “I guess the highlight is that we don’t want more money–we have a level budget,” Brown said. According to members of the Conservation District, the organization was able to bring in $1.672 million in the past year–a very good return on the county’s investment of ~$42,000.
Both Commissioner Barbara Albright and Commissioner Harold Coleman thanked the members of the Conservation District. Coleman said, “I think you’re a valuable program.”
Brown proceeded to explain some of the prominent conservation issues in the state of Kansas at present. Brown noted how fortunate Fort Scott is to have Cedar Creek Lake as a water resource in times of drought. Brown said, “Cedar Creek Lake is one of the best assets we’ve ever had,” and that Fort Scott had only 2 years’ worth of water in a drought before Cedar Creek Lake was built. Brown also mentioned that the county had released water from Cedar Creek Lake “most of the summer last summer” to alleviate drought conditions, and that the lake still had not run dry. However, Brown did highlight the issue of sediment build-up occurring in many bodies of water in the United States. Brown said, “The biggest problem we have in Eastern Kansas is the sediment coming into the lakes.” He said the cost of cleaning sediment from the bottom of a lake can cost as much as $4 million, and that it is a difficult process because of the toxic nature of the material, which often absorbs chemical runoff.
Commissioner Coleman also asked Brown if the control of the Arkansas River had anything to do with the low level of the aquifer in Western Kansas. Brown replied that it had affected water levels in Western Kansas and that there are ongoing lawsuits regarding water rights to that river. In the meanwhile, Brown mentioned that in some areas of Southwest Central Kansas it has gotten too expensive to pump water from the aquifer, and that a plan is being considered to put in a pipeline to carry water from the Missouri River to the area. Brown said that it would take a 12 ft. [diameter] pipe to carry the water.
In addition to explaining current issues in conservation, Brown informed commissioners that there now exist conservation compliance regulations attached to farm insurance, which encourages farmers to practice conservation and follow guidelines.
In other business:
- The Kansas County Association Multi-Line Pool (KCAMP) has sent a new scope of work proposal approved by their adjuster. The new document still only approves the installation of 1/2 inch of insulation on the courthouse roof, which is less insulation than what is currently on the courthouse roof.
- Bourbon County Public Works employees have addressed problems at the river bridge north of Fulton. According to Marty Pearson, Public Works Director, “Two men went up and cleaned it out. We opened it up and got the water off the bridge.”
- County Attorney Terri Johnson and commissioners revisited Bourbon County’s tuition reimbursement policy for county employees. According to the policy, reimbursement is based upon the final grade the employee earns while taking classes. Johnson said that according to policy, the reimbursement should be paid out of the Bourbon County General Fund, and that all courses must be pre-approved by an adviser and the commission. “It’s hard to work full time and go back go school,” said Johnson, explaining why this issue did not often appear. Johnson said that in the past, one employee actually got a 4 year degree while working for the county.