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Archive for Wednesday, July 7, 1993

RAINY YEAR CUTS CITY WATER USAGE

July 7, 1993

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Two years ago, Roger Coffey appealed to Lawrence residents to conserve water during an intense dry spell.

Coffey, director of city utilities, now finds himself hoping for dry weather and an increase in water consumption.

"Naturally, we'd like to have it so we would be selling more water," Coffey said. "It does mean a revenue problem to us if this thing persists."

Heavy rains during the past few months helped reduce city water consumption by 96 million gallons so far this year.

Tim LeTourneau, water systems engineer for the city, said Lawrence's two water plants pumped 1.559 billion gallons in the first six months of 1993.

During the same six-month period in 1992, the plants generated 1.655 billion gallons.

"We're lagging about 6 percent behind last year's pace," LeTourneau said.

Ed Mullins, city finance director, said the reduction in water sales hadn't dried up the city's revenue stream.

In 1992, he said, the city took in $3.06 million in water payments in the first six months of the year. The city generated $3.1 million during the first half of this year.

Mullins said the decline in sales was offset by an 8 percent rate hike imposed in January and a reduction this year in some expenses related to providing water to the city.

"You've got to look at both sides of it," he said. "We save on the expenditure side when consumption falls. Water has to be treated and pumped through lines."

Revenue from water sales is important because a portion of that money is earmarked to pay for capital improvements to the water supply system, he said.

During a normal Kansas summer, millions of gallons of water would be sprayed on Lawrence yards and gardens to keep plants green.

Rainfall in May, June and July this year has been so heavy that local residents haven't done much watering.

"I don't remember any year in which it has been this wet," Coffey said. "There should be enough moisture that lawn watering is at a standstill."

In May, June and July of 1992, 12.1 inches of rain fell in Lawrence. From May 1 through today, 19.2 inches of rain had fallen in the city.

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