The story of water: Beach Museum holds panel discussion over water conservation


An artist, a journalist and a researcher teamed up to “tell the story of water” at the Beach Museum of Art on Thursday, discussing everything from combating drought to water conservation in their presentation titled “Telling Water’s Story: Art, Science and Narrative.”

Cynthia Barnett, journalist and lecturer at the University of Florida, was the special guest presenter at the event.

Barnett raised two questions during her presentation, asking the audience if water usage decisions are being made with the future of humanity in mind and what kind of new world today’s young people will create.

“There is no better place to talk about water than Kansas right now,” Barnett said, referring to the drought the state is currently experiencing.

To combat drought and water pollution, Barnett stressed the importance of having a good water ethic.

“Water ethic is coming together to use less and pollute less,” Barnett said. “[It’s] making sure the way we live with water today doesn’t jeopardize fresh, clean water for our children, businesses and ecosystems for tomorrow.”

Following the presentation, Lynn Benson, gift print artist, and Peter Dorhout, Kansas State vice president for research and professor of chemistry, joined Barnett for a panel discussion.

“[Water] is one of the most remarkable fluids,” Dorhout said. “It enables us to preserve food, enables us to float or sink. It is a remarkable fluid, but it is one that we have abused.”

With a majority of the state of Kansas in moderate to exceptional drought, the use of water in agriculture is becoming an issue, Barnett said. The solution to overuse and pollution is a collective ethic because the problems are caused by a collective effort.

“I am so intrigued with what is going on with community activism,” Benson said. “It gives me hope where I wasn’t sure there was any.”

A second “Telling Water’s Story” event will be held Saturday at The Volland Store in Alma, Kansas, featuring Benson’s artwork and presentations from Barnett and Jeff Davidson, a watershed specialist at K-State.