From the Associated Press (John Hanna):
Sunflower Electric Power Corp., based in Hays, estimates its new plant in Finney County in southwest Kansas will consume 3.9 billion gallons of water a year. Most of the electricity generated by Sunflower’s new plant initially would flow to a partner utility in Colorado, leading critics to suggest Kansas will be, in effect, exporting its water. But as much water as the plant would consume, local officials calculate that it represents less than 1 percent of the existing annual water use in the state’s heavily agricultural southwest corner. Farmers previously held the rights to the water Sunflower would use, and they would have been allowed to consume significantly more.
Ed Quillen calls it an A new twist in an old contention up on the High Country News weblog Range. He writes:
Others point out that even if the water remained in agriculture, it would effectively be exported to other states where the products are consumed. I ran some numbers on this last year. A farm-fresh potato is about 80 percent water, so a ton of potatoes contains about 200 gallons. Every 700-pound yearling steer that leaves my county, and most of them do, is 65 percent water.
So maybe there’s no way around the persistent truth that the two major exports from rural areas are smart kids and water — either flowing, used to make electricity, or contained inside potato skins and cattle hides.