The city wants home and business owners to make sure their lawn sprinkler systems have proper contamination-preventing devices, which for some could require up to $1,000 in repairs.
Bob Skinner, the city's cross-connection control supervisor, last week sent letters to the 600 people and businesses with lawn irrigation systems. The letter was a reminder about a city ordinance calling for above-ground backflow prevention devices.
The devices, which prevent water from being sucked back into the city's drinking water supply, had been allowed underground until January, when the Lawrence City Commission changed requirements.
The upgrades could cost anywhere from $250 to $1,000, each according to two Lawrence irrigation contractors.
"We spend a lot of money making sure the water is pure, and we don't want the water contaminated," said Skinner, the city's cross-connection control supervisor. "The industry has determined that this is the best method of preventing that."
But Glen Westervelt, president of Lawrence Landscape, said most of his customers didn't want to make changes until after the next legislative session in Topeka. Several irrigators have contacted lawmakers about a possible law to allow the below-ground devices to remain.
"What people don't want to do is retrofit to an above-ground device, and then have the Legislature say they can go back," Westervelt said. "We kind of jumped the gun on this thing. The city should've waited."
Below-ground devices are safer because they're less vulnerable to freezing and vandalism, said Rich Wolfe, owner of Wolfe's Landscaping & Irrigation Inc.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment defines lawn sprinklers as "high hazard" systems, needing protection by one of three above-ground devices.
The devices, which are connected into sprinkler systems between the city's water line and a home or business' water meter, prevent contaminants such as lawn chemicals or dog urine from being drawn back into the drinking water supply.
Skinner said that a city inspector, after checking a system, would set a deadline for compliance: 30 days for systems without any protection; 60 days for systems with below-standard protection; and 5 1/2 years for systems protected by below-ground, double-check valves.