Residents south of Lawrence are thirsty for more water meters. City commissioners will consider their request Tuesday night.
Rural residents once again want more access to the water in Clinton Lake, but city officials are sticking to a 24-year-old contract that clamps down on development into the county.
Tuesday night, Lawrence city commissioners will consider a request from Rural Water District No. 2 to loosen city controls on how much water can be treated and pumped into a rural area generally south of County Road 458.
Wayne Flory, chair of the water district, wants the city to let his board sell 38 water meters this year -- enough to wipe out the current waiting list for new water connections -- plus another 14 meters each following year.
The district's current contract with the city, passed in 1970, allows the district to sell only four meters a year.
The current level is fine, Commissioner Bob Moody said. The only way the limit should change is if changes were acceptable for the city and all six rural water districts.
Right now, he said, increasing water limits could lead to unchecked growth in the county, which could strain demand on the city's water treatment plant and add costs to city taxpayers if land is annexed.
"I'm open to all discussion, but I'm not going to endorse a concept that I think is going to be bad for the city," Moody said.
City and county commissioners had been discussing the rural water issue for several months, with County Commissioner Jim Chappell offering new development restrictions in areas immediately bordering Lawrence in exchange for unlimited access to water meters.
But the last time Moody, Chappell and other city and county officials sat down at the same table for a rural water discussion was May 9. Chappell's not confident about reaching a compromise.
"Unfortunately everyone's letting their strong feelings get in the way of doing what's best for Lawrence and Douglas County," he said.
Doug Bowen, a general contractor, sees the frustration from the outside. He poured 87 tons of concrete into a mobile-home foundation six months ago only to find out the rural water district didn't have any more meters to sell.
The home, in Rural Water District No. 4, remains unoccupied.
"You get a couple of bull-headed people together and sometimes you have big problems on your hands," he said. "I know something better happen. Something needs to."
City commissioners will consider district No. 2's request during Tuesday's commission meeting, which begins at 6:35 p.m. at city hall, Sixth and Massachusetts.