WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The State of Kansas Governor’s water conference is this week.

It’s an effort to save water in the wake of a drought in parts of Kansas, along with aquifers that are drying up.

“I always say the sky is not falling. But today is our opportunity to keep it from falling,” said Susan Metzger with Kansas State University.

Metzger is announcing a water institute at Kansas State at the university level this week as well that coincided with the state water conference.

“The future is critical, and if we don’t protect our water resources here in Kansas, well then our communities, our industries, our livelihood, they have the choice and freedom to move to other places,” said Metzger. “This is our home, and our home is dependent on a healthy, clean, reliable future water supply. It’s on us to protect it.”

Metzger says The Kansas Water Institute will bring together water-related expertise from across the state of Kansas to drive transformational discovery through interdisciplinary research, teaching and engagement.

The water institute will look at practices that are working to find better ways to conserve water.

Holly Dickman with the City of Hays says the city has been practicing effective conservation efforts for years.

“Hays has a little bit of a unique story that we have to conserve water for certain reasons,” said Dickman. “And so, yes, water conservation has been a big deal in Hays since the early ’90s. And we are considered by many to be one of the leaders in that area.”

Dickman says the city pushes hard to educate people on how to save water. The city offers incentives, and Hays passed a half-cent sales tax in the ’90s to look for a new water source and fund conservation efforts.

Dickman will also lead talks at the Governor’s water conference this week.

“I am hoping there can be further ways we can conserve, and you know, there’s always room to do better, right?” said Dickman.

While the water conference looks into ways to conserve and find new water sources, Kansas State’s water institute will work across different disciplines to find solutions.

It can’t be done with a single research project. A single grant. In a single discipline. It really requires people coming together in creative ways to leverage our resources,” said Metzger. “But most importantly, to leverage our knowledge to tackle those challenges.”