The Barren River Area Development District will apply for a grant from the American Geophysical Union so that Kentucky Mesonet administrators can tailor certain climate data for area water system operators.
BRADD’s board approved the application Monday.
“There is a great deal of information available on the Mesonet. This will help us provide only the information that they think is needed,” said Scott Dobler, a geography and geology instructor at Western Kentucky University, after the meeting.
“So once this grant is approved, we will sit down with operators and find out what kind of information they need and from what sites.”
The Kentucky Mesonet, which is overseen by Western Kentucky University, has weather stations in seven of the 10 counties in the Barren River region. Monroe, Edmonson and Butler are the counties without weather stations.
So what is the benefit from the grant? Mesonet information through either a web browser or even a phone app that might be developed could tell operators how much moisture is in the soil and what a certain amount of rain in a given period would mean as far as runoff for their water sources, Dobler said. Heavy runoff has implications for water treatment. Rain that provides little runoff or periods of no rain also can have drought implications that operators need to be aware of.
That information already exists in the Mesonet site, but might be too voluminous for an operator to sift through and find pertinent information they need, according to Dobler.
The program’s intention is to provide specific information for each operator. For now, this will be just a pilot project for this region, but if successful it could be spread across the state in other areas where Mesonet sites exist.
Dobler anticipates that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which actually controls the release of water from dams such as Barren River into area water ways, may eventually be included.
The grant could be for as much as $30,000, but when the project would begin is not known, Dobler said.
Much of Monday’s BRADD meeting was taken up by announcements from attendees, including representatives of congressional leaders.
Holly Lewis said her boss, U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., expected a vote and recognized the need for immigration reform.
However, Jon Crosby, a field representative for U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said the legislation has reached 1,000 pages and contains a good deal of information that people wouldn’t be able to read before a vote, including $100 million for Las Vegas tourism.
“It is a bill loaded with everything without addressing the real issue, which is border security,” Crosby said. “We already have immigration laws on the books. Congress just needs to act on them.”
Mark Lord, district director for U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie, R-Bowling Green, said his office felt remorse over the failed farm bill.
“We are at a point where at least half of Congress has never voted on a farm bill and it has become a punching bag for fiscal reasons,” Lord said.
The farm bill contained an amendment that would have been the first step in approving the agriculture production of hemp. It would have allowed universities to grow hemp and research its agricultural implications.