Kansas River sand royalty fee would double under bill
Topeka Sand dredgers would have to pay double what they are currently paying the state for sand taken from the Kansas River under a bill proposed by a Lawrence legislator.
"There are environmental costs to the state for having sand removed," said State Sen. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence.
Senate Bill 300 was referred Friday to the Senate Natural Resources Committee for consideration.
Francisco's bill would increase from 15 cents per ton to 30 cents per ton the royalty fee that sand dredging operations would pay the state to remove sand from Kansas rivers.
Francisco said she proposed the bill on behalf of Friends of the Kaw, an environmental group that works to protect and preserve the Kansas River.
Laura Calwell, who is the Kansas Riverkeeper with the group, said increasing the cost of dredging would provide an incentive for dredgers to move their operations to open-pit mines on dry land.
She said dredging on the Kansas River over the past 100 years has caused erosion, collapsed banks and other problems.
"For the sake of the river we would like to see those operations moved," she said.
Currently, permitted sand dredging operations on the Kansas River have the capacity to remove 1.5 million tons of sand per year, she said.
Edward "Woody" Moses, managing director of the Kansas Aggregate Producers' Association, said an increase in the royalty would mean an increase in the cost of products the sand is used to make, such as roads and commercial and residential construction.
He also noted that it takes about 4 or 5 tons of river sand to make one ton of concrete or asphalt because the river sand is so fine.
And moving dredging operations would also increase the cost of the finished product because that would increase the cost of hauling.
Moses said he hasn't talked to members of his association yet about the bill, but added, "I don't think they would be in favor."