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Smoky Hill Museum

Hogs, Residents Compete For Kansas County’s Water Supply

KSAL Staff - November 29, 2015 5:53 am


Only 1,200 people live in Kansas’ smallest county, Greeley, where using irrigation is no longer an option for many because the groundwater underneath the arid prairie is nearly exhausted due to decades of overuse.

Economic development was at a standstill, so residents voted five years ago to allow the nation’s second-largest hog-feeding operation to move in. A second feeding site was just approved by the state.

It was a significant tradeoff.

Kansas-based Seaboard Foods is now its top taxpayer and accounts for roughly 9 percent of Greeley County’s tax base.

But though the thousands of hogs require less water than it would take to irrigate crops, the company is pumping wells that had been idled for a decade. Environmentalists and some residents fear the remaining groundwater will be used up.

Larry Elmquist

November 29, 2015 at 2:21 pm

Conservationists having been warning western kansas farmers and ranchers about water depletion since I was in grade school. It’s now be sixty years but science wins again. Did you hear that republicans? SCIENCE WINS AGAIN!

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