|House Committee on Resources Testimony by
M. Lee Allison, Kansas Geological Survey
Oral Testimony Presented to the House Committee on Resources, Subcommittee on Water and Power
Hearing on Senate Bill 212--The High Plains Aquifer Hydrogeologic Characterization, Mapping, Modeling and Monitoring Act--Oct. 31, 2003
State and Local Science Needs for the High Plains AquiferM. Lee Allison, PhD
State Geologist and Director, Kansas Geological Survey
University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to testify on behalf of the High Plains Aquifer Coalition in support of Senate Bill 212. The High Plains Aquifer Coalition is a joint effort between the geological surveys of the eight High Plains aquifer states and the U.S. Geological Survey. The Coalition objective is to extend the life of the High Plains aquifer through improved geological characterization and understanding at the state and local level. We appreciate the Committee holding a hearing on this important issue.
The region accounts for about 19 percent of total U.S. production of wheat and of cotton, 15 percent of our corn, and 3 percent of our sorghum. In addition, the region produces nearly 18 percent of U.S. beef. These numbers alone should elevate concern about the usable life of the aquifer from a regional to a national level.
We in the states who are struggling to extend and preserve the life of the High Plains aquifer know that ignorance is dangerous. State and local water users and managers are increasingly demanding the types and quality of data needed to develop useful and reasonable water-management programs. Current resources for water agencies are insufficient to meet these increasing needs.
This bill empowers the states in their efforts to protect a declining resource and extend the life of the High Plains aquifer. Scientific analyses and data collection would be improved. This bill provides a mechanism for states to develop or enhance their own capabilities in hydrogeology. Without this assistance, states are less able to control their destinies; they are less able to evaluate data, analyses, and interpretations produced by others. This bill puts the states on a more equal footing with the federal government.
Nothing in this bill changes the ways the aquifer is managed. Nothing in this bill duplicates current efforts. The role of the U.S.G.S. would be one of support in response to state requests and as a source of highly specialized technical expertise that individual state and local jurisdictions cannot afford. This bill sets support for state efforts as a higher priority for the U.S.G.S. It authorizes resources requested by state and local water agencies to help achieve their goals.
In conclusion, The High Plains Aquifer Hydrogeologic Characterization, Mapping, Modeling and Monitoring Act is an important step in a comprehensive program to extend the life of the aquifer. We are adamant about the primacy of the states in managing and controlling our water. In times of reduced state funding, this bill will help states and local stakeholders develop their own data and interpretations without having to rely on federal agencies.
We urge this committee to support Senate Bill 212.
This concludes my testimony, Mr. Chairman. I would be pleased to answer any questions that the members of the Committee may have.
Page updated Oct. 31, 2003
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