Water is an important resource that can be taken for granted in Kansas and across the nation. Water provides daily living needs, is crucial for agriculture, industry, and economic development and provides a variety of recreational activities. Water can and should be thought of as a key part of infrastructure in Kansas.

Planning for Kansas' abundant water resources, both short and long term, is addressed in the "Kansas Water Plan." A five-year update of the plan will be presented to the Kansas Water Authority at its quarterly meeting Jan. 28 and 29 at the Holiday Inn Holidome, Topeka. The meeting is open to the public.

The "Kansas Water Plan" is an overall water resource coordination tool that includes statewide water policy and river basin specific issues. Issues as diverse as the decline of the Ogallala-High Plains aquifer and maintaining the storage capacity of the state's federal reservoirs are considered. The plan was developed with input from water resource agencies, the Kansas Water Authority's river basin advisory committees and the public.

Sediment has taken a toll on the water storage capacity of the federal reservoirs in eastern Kansas that serve as a source of water for more than half of the state's population. By restoring and protecting the watersheds upstream of the reservoirs, it's possible to reduce erosion of soil and the resulting sedimentation.

Learning what to do with existing sediment loads also is important. In Brown County, a project underwritten by the State Water Plan Fund is underway to remove sediment from Mission Lake to enhance the City of Horton's water supply. This project, an example of how implementation must follow planning, will provide information for future sediment management in water supply storage.

The Kansas Water Office will present the 2008 Fox Award in recognition of a Kansan who demonstrates exemplary support of the state's water resources and its policies. The award, presented annually since 1997, has been received by legislators, educators and Kansas Water Authority members.

The 24-member Kansas Water Authority and the Kansas Water Office work in concert to advise the Governor and the Kansas Legislature on water resource policy. Authority members include representatives of both the state's diverse water resource interests and the state's water resource agencies.

Complete meeting information, including a site map, agenda and other materials will be posted on the Kansas Water Office web page at www.kwo.org. Interested parties without web access may call the Kansas Water Office at 785-296-3185 or toll free at 888-KAN-WATER (526-9283) to request meeting materials.

Anyone needing special accommodations at the meeting site should contact the Kansas Water Office at least two days before the meeting.

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