Federal working group addressing water crisis, drought for producers

A Southwest Kansas farmer says there should be alternative resources available to help mitigate on-going drought and protect the water supply in the U.S. 

During a recent Senate Ag Subcommittee hearing, Tom Willis, of Garden City, told lawmakers without conservation techniques during irrigation season, his water supply could dry up. “That’s 10 feet of water that we used out of the aquifer that was not going to be replenished.   I could see that was not sustainable.”  

But, he says he’s been able to conserve over 1 billion gallons of water in six years. “By changing crop rotation, by using technologies that are out there – that’s real water for my son, my grandson and for the way of life that we choose to live.” 

USDA Deputy Under Secretary Gloria Montano Green with Farm Production and Conservation tells Brownfield the topic is top of mind for some producers. “They might not be saying climate change, but they’re talking about changes in the cropping season and the changes in ways they’re considering (in) agriculture.”

She says a working group that consists of private and federal agencies is assessing the impacts of climate and ways to support producers. “To be able to better define better warning systems and needs. Are there things pivoting historically? Are there things pivoting from one month to the next to prepare for what some of these impacts might be?”

The Drought Resiliency Interagency Working Group was created last April and uses data and stakeholder input to understand snow cover, extreme winds, precipitation, and evaporation.

As an example, Montano Green says the Departments of Interior and Agriculture created the Water Smart Initiative that looks at water improvements and movements and watershed restoration.

USDA Deputy Under Secretary Gloria Montano Green with Farm Production and Conservation:

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