As the new year approaches, the state of Kansas remains in the grip of a severe drought. Governor Laura Kelly has issued a drought declaration covering all 105 counties of the state, based on a drought map that places 67 counties in an emergency status, 11 counties in warning status and the remaining 27 counties in watch status.
When Governor Kelly issued the order in October, she was responding to a particularly dry spring and summer, as well as the prospect of above-normal temperatures and below-normal precipitation throughout Kansas into December. Unfortunately, the conditions have not improved sufficiently to warrant modification of the executive order.
Connie Owen, director of the Kansas Water Office and chairwoman of the governor’s disaster response team, stated that the Kansas Water Office closely monitors the U.S. Drought Monitor and other scientific sources to determine when modifications of the current drought declaration may be appropriate. At this time, however, the drought conditions remain unchanged.
The drought has had profound effects on the state, particularly on the agricultural sector. Livestock producers have had to reduce the size of their herds, while crop yields have been reduced significantly. Kansas’s water supplies are also affected, with reservoirs and streams running at near-record lows.
The state’s citizens have also been affected by the drought in numerous ways. Many households have had to restrict their water usage, and many have been forced to forgo certain outdoor activities. In addition, the economic effects of the drought have been felt far and wide, with businesses offering fewer jobs and reduced wages.
As the new year begins, we can only hope that the state of Kansas will soon receive the precipitation it needs to end the drought. In the meantime, citizens must remain vigilant in conserving water, reducing their water usage, and looking out for signs of drought-related stress on their communities. It’s only through working together that we can hope to bring an end to this severe drought.