Click the link to read the article on the KTIC website (Bryce Anderson). Here’s an excerpt:
A post on social media from Haskell County, Kansas, pointed to a stark example of the impact of extreme drought and high crop irrigation demand in the 2022 year. “(The) well is basically out of water now. Been very limited for the last 7 years. Down to 100 gallons per minute and the well is pumping a lot of sand,” the producer wrote. The water table at an index well in Haskell County, Kansas, dropped to almost 400 feet below the surface in late summer 2022. (Kansas Geological Survey graphic)
A check with Kansas water and climate experts confirms that the account of wells running dry is valid and happened this year to more than just one grower here and there. “It has been a very difficult year; one that rivals what we saw in 2011 and 2012,” said data scientist Blake B. Wilson of the Kansas Geological Survey (KGS) in an email to DTN. The years 2011 and 2012 were also bad drought years, and there is a straight connection between drought and the wells going dry. “Since irrigation accounts for 95%+ of the (water) usage, it is highly correlated to precip,” he said. “As precipitation goes, so does pumping, and in turn, the rates of declines in the aquifer.”
The aquifer in question is the Ogallala Aquifer, the source of much irrigation water and the lifeblood of row-crop agriculture in the southwestern Plains. Aquifer level declines during the farming year are sharply revealed in analysis of index wells, where the depth to find water is monitored and recorded. A review of an index well in Haskell County shows that by late August, the distance from ground surface to the aquifer had deepened to almost 400 feet. KGS’s Wilson has seen that before, “… where the water table drops 100 feet during the irrigation season,” he said.
While the Yampa River has not closed quite as much this year as it did last year, local fishermen lost out on most of July and August and a chunk of September in 2022…
“There’s three criteria that would determine a closure or trigger a closure,” [Johnny] Spillane said. “One is water temperature, another is water flow meaning (cubic feet per second) and the third criteria is dissolved oxygen in the river. If any of those three criteria are not being met, that will trigger a closure and that seems to be fairly common in the last five, six or seven years.”
As far as the rain’s effect on fish behavior, Spillane says it is complicated but mostly acts as a good thing for the fish and therefore a good thing for those fishing.
The Supreme Court opened its new term on Monday by hearing a property rights appeal that calls for limiting the government’s power to protect millions of acres of wetlands from development. At issue is whether the Clean Water Act forbids polluting wetlands and marshes that are near — but not strictly part of — waterways.
Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson in her first day on the bench led the way in questioning why the court should move to limit the protection for wetlands. She said Congress in 1977 determined that wetlands “adjacent” to rivers and bays should be protected. Why should the law be narrowed, she asked, “when the objective of the statute is to ensure the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the nation’s waters? Are you saying that neighboring wetlands can’t impact the quality of navigable waters?” Justices Elena Kagan and Brett M. Kavanaugh said they agreed with that view. Kavanaugh said that seven administrations — Republican and Democratic — had taken the view that wetlands were protected if they were near a waterway.
Damien Schiff, an attorney for Pacific Legal Foundation, agreed that some wetlands can be protected, but he argued property owners should not be blocked from developing their land simply because it has a marshy area. His argument won favor with several of the court’s conservatives who questioned how property owners of land near a waterway or a wetland would know if they were subject to federal regulation. Jackson noted that the prior owners of the Idaho land were told it included protected wetlands.
“You keep talking about fair notice and property owners, about not being able to tell or know about this issue,” she told Schiff. But with respect to the Idaho couple, “there seems to have been a prior determination that the land was a wetland before they bought it, and whether or not they know, they could have known, I presume.”