Farmers know the importance of water. Water is a necessary component to raising the crops and livestock to feed the world, and it will continue to play a major role in production well into the future.

In western Kansas, the depletion of the Ogallala Aquifer has many people talking about water management. Producers in western Kansas who use water from the aquifer for crop irrigation and livestock production are looking at all possibilities to reduce water use today and extend the economic life of the aquifer, while remaining economically viable, said Bill Golden, natural resource economist for Kansas State Research and Extension.

Local Enhanced Management Areas, or LEMAs, are public-driven and allow irrigators and other water users in Kansas' groundwater management districts (GMDs) to establish their own groundwater conservation policies. LEMAs were made possible by a bill passed in the Kansas Legislature last year.

"I think [LEMAs] will be the future of groundwater management in Kansas," Golden said. "It gives producers the flexibility to say, 'We want water for our grandkids and our great-grandkids.'"

The LEMA process, Golden said, transfers authority from the GMD to local producers. Each LEMA has to be approved by the GMD and the chief engineer, but it provides flexibility to local producers by allowing them to decide the future of the aquifer under their property.

Because they are public-driven, LEMAs are different than another water regulation program called Intensive Groundwater Use Control Areas. The 1978 Kansas Groundwater Management District Act passed by the Kansas Legislature made IGUCAs possible. IGUCAs give power to the state's chief engineer to implement provisions if groundwater levels are declining excessively in certain areas.

Golden said IGUCAs are a top-down process for groundwater management, while local agricultural producers can define LEMAs — what the rules are and how much water use they want to reduce — and can reverse a particular LEMA if it isn't helping the water issue.

Golden said this is why he is watching the economics of the first LEMA in Kansas, the Sheridan-Thomas County LEMA, or Sheridan 6 LEMA, in the northwest part of the state.

"We are going to track to see what kind of crop-mix changes they make," he said. "Do they change irrigation equipment? Do they change other cultural practices?"

A reduction in water can result in losses to a producer in the area, Golden said, but prior case studies have shown that farmers have been able to deal with less water very well, because they are innovative and are able to figure out ways not to lose revenue.

LEMAs are helping with the phase-in, Golden said, because instead of an annual allocation, LEMAs allow for a five-year allocation. Producers are allowed to use that water anytime during that five-year period, which gives them flexibility to decide what crop-mixes and other changes they might want to try with less water availability.

If you have any questions about LEMAs or any other concerns, contact David Coltrain at 272-3670 or email Information for this article came from K-State Extension News.

Hot drinks for winter

As the cold-weather season creeps up on us, so does the season of steaming hot drinks. Whether it is a cappuccino, a cup of green tea or a rich hot chocolate that is your cold-weather drink of choice, a warming drink can often brighten up a gloomy autumn day. Though tea, coffee and hot chocolate — in different shapes and forms — are the most commonly known hot drinks in America, indulge yourself with these delicious cold-weather beverages and stay warm.

* Easy Chai Tea: This café favorite is easier to make than you think; simply bring crushed spices, cinnamon sticks, ginger and milk to a boil, add tea bags and let steep for 10 minutes.

* Warm Mulled Cider: Simmer apple cider with mulling spices, orange zest and ginger to make a drink that smells as good as it tastes.

* Mexican Spiced Hot Cocoa: Add a touch of ground chipotle and cinnamon to turn up the heat in this winter favorite.

* Malted Hot Cocoa with Toasted Marshmallows: Change up your favorite hot chocolate by adding malted milk powder and broiled marshmallows.

* Minty Hot Cocoa Float: A scoop of mint chocolate chip ice cream transforms traditional hot cocoa into a dessert-like winter treat.

* Magic Cocoa: This recipe calls for just two ingredients — add cocoa candy melts or semisweet chocolate chips to hot milk and stir.

* Hot Apple Cider: Although apple cider is commonly found in the autumn months, it still makes a wonderful winter treat. To make your own homemade cup, however, start off with these ingredients: 4 cups apple cider, 2 sticks of cinnamon, 2 tsp. orange zest, 1 Tbsp. brown sugar, 1/2 tsp. cloves and 1/2 tsp. Allspice. Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan and heat until the sugar is dissolved. Lower the heat and then simmer for 20 minutes. Be careful to not burn the cider! Solid ingredients (cloves, allspice and cinnamon) can be removed from the liquid using a strainer. Then, your apple cider is ready! This recipe should make four mugs full of cider.

Any questions or concerns, contact LĂ©hisa de Fornoza at 272-3670 or

4-H project

Electricity is everywhere. In the 4-H Energy Management project, youth learn important general electrical concepts as they experiment with making a light switch, testing voltages and even build motors. They study energy use, magnetism, electronics and transistors.

4-H members can also learn how small engines work and how to keep them working or discover the power of wind! In the power of wind, youth understand where the wind blows and how its power can be used for sailing, lifting, pumping water and creating electricity.

4-H Energy Management includes investigating electricity, small engines and the power of wind.

Join 4-H, the club of families who share in teaching kids practical things like pet care, growing gardens or horseback riding, and important values like responsibility. Whether you're in the city or boonies, join 4-H, the club of families that tackles life's little questions together to grow great kids. (Resource: Kansas 4-H)

For 4-H inquiries and questions, contact Barbara Addison at 272-3670 or

4-H training

Youth leaders and officers provide direction and leadership to 4-H clubs, groups and committees. Youth in leadership roles gain belonging, mastery, independence and generosity, the four essential elements of positive youth development. They gain life skills of decision making, problem solving, responsibility, teamwork, leading groups, conflict resolution and many more.

Officers' training objectives include:

* To prepare new officers to carry out their responsibilities and familiarize officers with basic procedures and routines used in club meetings.

* To teach officers to plan the monthly 4-H meeting agenda and teach speaking, leadership and parliamentary skills.

* To build teamwork and promote county spirit.

* To encourage 4-H'ers to enjoy fun and fellowship with members from other clubs.

4-H club officer positions and duties may differ in each club. Officers need to check with the 4-H club organizational leader for more specific duties and requirements of each office in each club.

Extension programs

* Finney County Extension election, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. today at the Finney County Extension Office

* Knowledge at Noon, "It's Beginning To Look a Lot Like Christmas," noon Thursday at the Finney County Public Library (bring your lunch).

* 4-H Officers Training, 7 p.m. Nov. 14 at the Finney County Fairgrounds

* "Mealtime Inspiration — For the Holidays," Nov. 15 at the 4-H Building (RSVP by Thursday with meeting fee).

* 4-H Achievement Program, 5:30 p.m. Nov. 17 at the fairgrounds

* 4-H Cloverbud Club meeting, 6:30 p.m. Nov. 19 at the fairgrounds

* Deer Management Program, 6:30 p.m. Nov. 21 at the fairgrounds (RSVP by Nov. 20).