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Archive for Friday, April 6, 2001

Water use statistics show city is getting bigger, and hotter

April 6, 2001

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Looking at the numbers, one can determine two things about Lawrence in 2000: The city got a little bigger and a lot hotter.

Lawrence residents used more water and electricity, bought more goods and started more construction than in 1999. Local officials weren't surprised.

"Lawrence is still seeing some growth," City Manager Mike Wildgen said in early January, "and it's moderate growth."

Initial figures from the city found:

The utilities department pumped 4.67 billion gallons of water to the city in 2000, an increase of about 10 percent over the 4.25 billion in 1999.

Electricity use in Lawrence jumped about 5.5 percent during the first three quarters of 2000 compared with the same time in 1999.

The city brought in nearly $10.35 million in sales tax revenues during 2000, compared with $10.17 million in 1999.

Through November 2000, builders took out permits for $168 million worth of projects. That beats the record of $167.5 million set in 1996.

Planning officials received 57 zoning requests in 2000, compared with 36 a year earlier.

While the water and electricity rates do reflect some growth, officials said, they were mainly spurred by sustained triple-digit temperatures throughout the summer.

"What the numbers show me is we had a real high summer usage, which we are all aware of," Chris Stewart, water systems engineer for the city, said.

City government itself prompted the growth in some of the other numbers.

The value of new construction increased, in part, because of the combined $11.6 million being spent on a new parking garage and Lawrence Arts Center building.

Bryan Dyer, a long-range planner in the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Office, said the growth in zoning requests was an aberration.

He said, "The rezoning requests would be fairly typical of a city that is growing."

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