State officials said Tuesday that they wanted to hear what members of the public thought about a $65 million plan to purchase water storage in Perry and Milford lakes.
The Kansas Water Authority recently authorized public hearings on a plan for the state to exercise its option to buy uncommitted storage in the lakes that would hold 105 billion gallons of water.
The city of Lawrence uses about 4.5 billion gallons of water annually.
State water officials say the purchase is needed to meet long-term water needs of communities along the Kansas River, the state's fastest-growing area.
And, they say, the purchase will enhance the lakes' recreational value and prevent the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from drawing down the reservoirs during drought to enhance the flow of the Missouri River for barge traffic.
"Kansas is in an enviable position," Joe Harkins, director of the Kansas Water Office, said. "Forward-thinking Kansans in the mid-1970s contracted to buy storage space in Milford and Perry reservoirs from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at bargain construction-year prices, and at a 2.5 percent to 3 percent interest rate."
Public hearings on the issue will be held on Oct. 27 at the Finnup Center of the Lee Richardson Zoo in Garden City; Oct. 28 at the Kansas Highway Patrol Training Academy in Salina; and Oct. 30 at Memorial Hall in Topeka. All meetings start at 7 p.m.
State officials say they want to hear from the public on whether to advance on the purchase, and on a proposal to buy the water storage by issuing bonds.