About Water + Energy Progress

In 2012, the Midwest suffered an extreme drought. All 105 Kafarm picturensas counties were declared federal disaster areas and all remain in emergency drought conditions.[i]  According to the Kansas Geological Survey, groundwater levels in central and western Kansas continue to drop with averages ranging from 1.4 feet in the northwest to 3.56 feet in the southwest. Groundwater levels dropped by 14 feet since 1996 with the most severe regional decline being over 30 feet.[ii]   As water levels decrease, more energy is required to pump the water and (as if that wasn’t bad enough) energy costs are rising.[iii]
 
This is a perfect time to start a conversation on the nexus of water and energy on farms and ranches in the heartland.

Every drop of water saved in the United States saves energy.[iv] Energy usage in agricultural production can be direct (electricity and fuel used to run equipment) or less obvious, as seen in energy-intensive inputs like chemical pesticides and fertilizers.

The connections between both direct and indirect energy use with water conservation and water quality are incredibly complex . . . but the possible solutions are exciting and encouraging!

We see the drought as a tough situation, to be sure, but it also provides an excellent opportunity to start a new conversation about water and energy use in agriculture. The big idea is essentially this: bring together a group with wide-ranging expertise in agriculture, water, energy, and natural resources, identify producers who are successfully innovating to save water and energy and then share their successes with others. We hope that sharing these positive examples will further encourage innovation in energy efficiency and water conservation in agricultural production. We’ll keep looking on the bright side and continue to share the successful innovations as the project grows!

We’re excited to share the stories of these leaders in water conservation and energy efficiency and responsible stewards of the land.

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[i]Kansas Water Office, "Climate and Drought Update.” July 5, 2013. http://www.kwo.org/reports_publications/Drought/rpt_012_final_end_June_DROUGHT_UPDATE_070513_dc.pdf.

[ii] Kansas Geological Survey, "Groundwater Levels Decline in Western and Central Kansas.” February 4, 2013. http://www.kgs.ku.edu/General/News/2013/2013groundwaterlevels.html.

[iii]U.S. Energy Information Administration, "Consumer Price Estimates for Energy by End-Use Sector, 1970-2010.” September 27, 2012.http://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/annual/showtext.cfm?t=ptb0304.

[iv]Environmental Protection Agency, "Saving Water Saves Energy.” June 20, 2013. http://www.epa.gov/WaterSense/pubs/waterenergy.html.