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Innovation on conserving, reusing water wins awardsInnovation on conserving, reusing water wins awards

Individuals, business, city honored for efforts to use less water.

Walt Davis 1

December 2, 2016

5 Min Read

The state of Kansas has been a leader in the U.S. for more than 50 years when it comes to the monitoring and management of water resources.

Over the last five years, state water users and regulators have stepped up the mission by accepting the challenge to develop a 50-year Vision for the Future of Water in Kansas.

This year, at the annual governor's water conference, four entities were recognized for extraordinary measures to conserve, reuse or adopt better practices with the 'Be the Vision' award.


Honorees included David Royer with the Delaware River Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy (WRAPS) Streambank Stabilization; the city of Garden City, represented by Fred Jones; Tom Willis with T&O Technology Farm; and Spirit AeroSystems in Wichita.

The David Royer story
One of the biggest contributors to reservoir sedimentation issues is the erosion of streambanks. David Royer’s sites were top priority within the WRAPS projects to be constructed along the Delaware River. Royer’s advocacy has led many others to utilize the WRAPS program as well to reduce sediment and nutrients going into the lake and reservoir.

“I had already replaced a levee twice based on the river moving, and as the river moved, my property line continued to move. Each year more and more of my farm ground was ending up in Perry Lake,” Royer said. “These are relatively low investments for what you get back, and I am glad to be an advocate for how successful these projects are. Simply put, they work.”

Royer now serves on the Delaware River WRAPS Stakeholder Leadership Team, making a big impact in the watershed by hosting many watershed, legislative and forestry tours on his property and helping others to implement these practices on their farms located above the reservoirs.

Tom Willis' vision
As important as streambank projects are in the east, the Water Technology Farm initiative is a Vision action item that plays a key role in the Ogallala region by demonstrating more can be done with less water.

The first and largest Water Technology Farm developed for 2016 was T&O Farms south of Garden City.

To realize the full potential of coupling water-saving strategies, Willis chose his farm to also be a Water Conservation Area, which allows additional reduction in water withdrawals while maintaining economic value through water-right technology. 

Willis said he reduced water application from 425 gallons per minute to 375 gpm this year and used 40% less fertilizer.

He said the use of moisture probes allowed him to have the confidence to shut pivots down almost three weeks before his neighbors did.

“I want to prove the concept that we can conserve water and still achieve profitable yields using the technologies we are pioneering on my farm. I was able to shut my water off before others because of the technologies being used,” Willis said. “Secondly I have a nephew farming with me and a son who is returning home to farm after serving our country. Hopefully, these technologies will help extend the life of the aquifer so they and others of their generation can continue to irrigate and farm profitably in southwest Kansas for years to come.”

Garden City's effort
The city of Garden City, under the direction of Water Resource Manager Fred Jones, has taken the local management of its resource to the next level in terms of water conservation and additional sources of supply, as well as residential water use reduction strategies.

“We have worked with community partners to encourage water reuse for agricultural and industrial purposes, and in 2015 the city of Garden City committed to use treated effluent from the Dairy Farmers of America milk drying plant currently under construction in Garden City,” Jones said. “The city expects to receive nearly 1 million gallons of treated effluent water daily that is removed from the milk at the plant. 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.”

In addition, Garden City is also working to educate citizens about water use through advanced metering infrastructure, geographic information systems and statistical analysis. The city will provide reports to customers that will inform them of their water consumption history and compare their consumption to peer properties. The information will provide estimates of water and money saved via water conservation tips. 

Spirit builds pipeline
Spirit AeroSystems was honored for its collaboration with the city of Wichita to build a 3-mile dedicated pipeline connecting the company’s manufacturing operations to a city water treatment facility. It will allow Spirit to purchase recycled water directly from the city to help the company run its factory more efficiently and help the community achieve its water conservation goals for long-term stability, without raising rates for other water customers.

“The new pipeline will allow Spirit to decrease its potable water usage by 70% as the company purchases up to 500 million gallons of recycled water each year from the city,” said Sam Marnick, Spirit AeroSystems executive vice president and chief administration officer. “Prior to this project, Spirit recycled about 2 million gallons of water per day using its internal reverse osmosis system, but we wanted to do even more. Thanks to the partnership with Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell and the city, the new pipeline will allow Spirit to use on average more than 3 million gallons of recycled water each day.”

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