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Kansans Are Using Less Water

Total water withdrawals in Kansas
U.S. Geological Survey
Total water withdrawals in Kansas

Kansas water use is declining, according to a new report from the U.S. Geological survey.

In 2015, Kansas used on average more than 4 billion gallons of water each day. That’s down nearly 25 percent from 1990. Of that, 2.6 billion gallons per day are used for irrigation — a decrease of 36 percent from 1990.

“What we’re doing is great, it’s just not enough of it,” said Kansas Water Office Director Tracy Streeter.

He’s particularly concerned about areas of western Kansas where farmers draw from the diminishing Ogallala aquifer.

“Overall, we’ve got to see more widespread adoption of conservation efforts,” he said.

The top three water consuming counties are Stevens, Finney and Seward — all located in southwestern Kansas.

Linn County, in eastern Kansas, withdraws the most water per day of any county. The culprit is the LaCygne coal-fired power plant, which withdraws 610 million gallons per day. But the plant puts almost all the water it withdraws back into the lake it comes from, consuming just 1 percent of it. 

Mandy Stone is a hydrologist at the USGS in Kansas. She said the data is a good tool to show policymakers, and Kansans, where their water comes from and where it goes.

“This water use data is important, ultimately because all of us in the economy depend on water every day,” she said.

Brian Grimmett, based at KMUW in Wichita, is a reporter focusing on the environment and energy for the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KMUW, Kansas Public Radio, KCUR and High Plains Public Radio covering health, education and politics. Follow him on Twitter @briangrimmett

Coverage of energy and the environment is made possible in part by ITC Great Plains and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution and a link back to the original post.

Copyright 2018 KMUW | NPR for Wichita

Brian Grimmett comes to KMUW after taking a year break from journalism, but he’s excited to jump back in to the fray. Previously, Brian spent almost five years working at KUER 90.1 FM in Salt Lake City. He worked his way up, starting as an intern and sticking around long enough until they relented and gave him a full-time job. At KUER, Brian covered a wide range of topics, but mainly focused on covering the Utah state legislature.