Water: The Common Denominator

Posted on Feb 2, 2018

KFB Priority Issue Moving Forward through Collaboration

Henry Ford once said, “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success."  That quote appropriately describes the efforts that are being made by Kentucky Farm Bureau (KFB) and some of its partners in both government and agriculture sectors to move forward on the issue of water resource management. 

Cove Springs Falls, Franklin County, Kentucky

KFB’s Water Management Working Group (WMWG) began a process more than three years ago that brought together experts in a number of fields from a number of agencies to develop recommendations to enhance the quality and quantity of water resources available, especially in the agriculture sector.

In doing so, the idea of legislation that would create a statewide water resources board was born and recommended by the WMWG. HB529, which established that board, was passed by the Kentucky General Assembly in 2016. 

Specifically, the Kentucky Water Resources Board (KWRB) is administered by the Energy and Environment Cabinet and assists the cabinet in conducting research and developing recommendations to enhance water resources accessible for agricultural production.

That board consists of members from a variety of stakeholder agencies and organizations including KFB. Steve Coleman, retired Director of the Kentucky Division of Conservation, chairs the WMWG and serves as the KFB representative on the KWRB. He said since its inception, the WMWG has developed a body of expertise and knowledge, collecting information that will be very valuable to state ag producers as they deal with the day-to-day issues of water management.

“We have come a long way with not only the research side of this but now, also getting down to implementation and actually having specific best-management practices that landowners can learn about and adopt for their farms to improve their efficiency in water management,” he said. 

In moving forward on the implementation of projects, a presentation was recently made by the KWRB to the Kentucky Agricultural Development Board (KADB) to discuss funding opportunities which would help implement plans and research efforts as part of its strategy in taking these projects to public and private farm operations which will ultimately benefit farm families across the state.  

During the presentation, Pete Goodmann, Director of the Kentucky Division of Water, Charles G. Snavely, Secretary of the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet, and KFB President Mark Haney addressed the KADB explaining the value of such research not only for agriculture but for all Kentuckians.

Haney told board members that water is the one thing that is common between all farm operations and resilient water management practices are essential to the success of those operations.

“There is perhaps nothing more valuable to our farm families than adequate water supplies on hand at the times when they need it the most,” he said. “The work the WMWG and the KWRB have done and will continue to do, will help to ensure those valuable water supplies are available. This research is critical not only to the agriculture industry but ultimately to all citizens. Water is our common denominator.”

Goodmann said the Cabinet and the Kentucky Farm Bureau recognize the importance of water resiliency in protecting and sustaining Kentucky’s agriculture and its economic future. 

“The Water Resources Board’s ‘On Farm Water Resiliency program’ seeks to develop and implement water-management practices to improve water resilience on farms, promote innovation in on-farm water management, and increase on-farm water control and availability,” he said. “The program’s goal is to institutionalize and normalize water management practices so that Kentucky’s diverse agriculture operations become more sustainable and profitable.” 

The collaboration that has existed between all vested parties during this time of renewed water management resource interest, has been spurred by the creation of and recommendations from the WMWG, said David S. Beck, KFB Executive Vice President.

“The idea of needing resilient water resources is nothing new but often in places where water supplies are abundant as they are in Kentucky, it is easy to become complacent when thinking about water issues until there is a crisis,” he said. “This should never be the case especially when our state’s economy depends so much on a vibrant agriculture industry. We feel the work taking place now with so many agencies and organizations will benefit Kentucky’s overall economy now and in the foreseeable future. This whole project is proof that when we work together for a common goal, great things can be accomplished.”

Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet Secretary Charles Snavely will be featured in the March Candid Conversation of KFB News.