While the popular image of Kansas is that it is perfectly flat and mainly rural, the state is home to a number of vibrant cities and its climate and water resources vary significantly by region. In our cover story this month, we speak with Toby Dougherty, the city manager of Hays, Kansas. Hays is located in an arid zone of central Kansas that lacks significant surface water, precipitation, or groundwater. In response to this situation, the city has put significant effort into water conservation and reuse and is constructing a 70‑mile pipeline to bring it new water.
We also feature two other Kansas municipal utilities. James Epp and Steve Green of Kansas City, Kansas, tell us about how the city’s Board of Public Utilities collects water from the aquifer under the Missouri River and delivers it to around 55,000 customers in the surrounding area. Mike Lawless of Lawrence, Kansas, tells us about the city’s water, wastewater, and storm water service upgrades, including the installation of advanced metering infrastructure, its inflow and infiltration reduction program, and its source water protection activities.
Next, we hear from Brian Brandstetter, the vice president of Warren Environmental, who tells us why Warren’s single-coat epoxy coating was selected by Charlotte Water for its ongoing reliability and process improvements project and how it is saving the agency money in the long run. 

We also speak with Kristan VandenHeuvel, the strategic director of research and engagement at the new Buford, Georgia, research center The Water Tower. The center aims to bring together research, innovation, community engagement, and workforce development on a campus where laboratories and classroom space are just a walk apart. 

Finally, in an interview that will be of interest to all municipal wastewater utilities, we speak with Water Research Foundation (WRF) CEO Peter Grevatt about the current state of research on using wastewater testing as an early warning system for detecting COVID‑19 outbreaks. Mr. Grevatt explains the basic science behind this testing method and updates us on the research and testing being carried out by WRF’s subscribers worldwide. 

In the U.S. heartland and around the world, municipal water agencies are carrying on vital work every day. This issue of Municipal Water Leader will remind you why, in these difficult times, water agencies are rightly considered critical service providers. 

Kris Polly is editor-in-chief of Municipal Water Leader magazine and president and CEO of Water Strategies LLC, a government relations firm he began in February 2009 for the purpose of representing and guiding water, power, and agricultural entities in their dealings with Congress, the Bureau of Reclamation, and other federal government agencies. He may be contacted at kris.polly@waterstrategies.com.