Archive for Tuesday, July 15, 2008

City likely to raise water rates

Extra income would fund replacement of aging intake

It seems clear that city residents will be paying more for water in 2009. Lawrence city commissioners raised no objections to a proposed 12 percent water rate increase during a study session this afternoon.

July 15, 2008


It appears likely that city residents will see a 12 percent increase in water rates in 2009, in part, because city commissioners no longer want to gamble on a key piece of aging infrastructure.

At a study session Monday afternoon, commissioners did not object to City Manager David Corliss' proposal to increase water rates for the coming year. Commissioners were told that the average household that uses about 8,000 gallons of water per month would experience an increase of about $3.15 per month. People who heavily water lawns or gardens would see larger monthly increases.

"From the information we're getting, we still would be pretty much in the mid-range of what other cities charge," City Commissioner Mike Amyx said. "But it still will be a hard pill to swallow, obviously."

Staff members, though, said the rate increase is needed because concern is growing about a 34-year-old water intake on the Kansas River. The intake is the sole way the Kaw Water Treatment plant captures surface water from the Kansas River. If it failed, the city would have to rely on the Clinton Water Treatment Plant on the western side of Lawrence. That plant likely could not meet all the city's water needs, especially during the summer.

"You would be talking about rationing," Amyx said of a worst-case scenario.

The intake would cost about

$6.6 million to replace. City staff members said they did not think the intake was in immediate danger of failing, but history shows the devices do fail when they get old.

Other intakes on the Kaw have lasted about 30 years, on average, before the piping has been washed out.

Replacing the intake likely will mean North Lawrence residents will have to wait longer for a major water system improvement. Commissioners were told that even with a 12 percent increase the city won't have enough money to do both the intake project and a $6 million project to run a new water line across the Kansas River to North Lawrence.

The waterline project was designed to give North Lawrence a second source of water. Now, North Lawrence receives all its treated water from a single 19-year-old water line that runs underneath the Kansas River bridge near Massachusetts Street.

Subsequent phases of the project would run the water line back across the river to eastern Lawrence to serve the area near O'Connell Road and 23rd Street.

Commissioners, though, agreed the Kaw water intake project was more critical.

"That is the one where we face the highest level of risk," City Commissioner Rob Chestnut said. "If that intake goes down, we would have a serious problem."

Commissioners are hoping the 12 percent rate increase doesn't cause serious problems for rate payers. Staff members presented information that showed Lawrence's water rates are the second-lowest among nine cities and water districts surveyed in the Kansas City and Topeka area.

Commissioners also are not proposing a sewer rate increase for 2009. That means total sewer and water bills are expected to increase by about 5 percent on average.


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 11 months ago

It'd be interesting to know how much of the money paid in on water bills over the last 34 years has been spent on new infrastructure for new development, rather than put into a fund for maintenance of existing infrastructure, such as the need of a new intake described in this story.

GSWtotheheart 9 years, 11 months ago

if it's yellow, let it mellowif it's brown, flush it down(an oldie but a goodie)

Nop Enotgoingto 9 years, 11 months ago

I will say it again on this one, the 12 percent is to pay for all the land take over and construction they are going to be doing as they spend millions of dollars laying new, additional, water pipes across the river and around north lawrence and out to the airport.

gontek 9 years, 11 months ago Kaw plant does not solely rely on the Kaw River crib intake, in fact there is less treatment required from the Kaw Alluviual wells. There is misinformation and incomplete information in this report and video clip. Unfortunately, the 2007 Utlities Annual Report is only 5 pages and doesn't include the water rights summary from the KWO. I found them here. they could still get 1.86 mgd from groundwater wells. The kaw plant has an annual production of around maybe 7 or 8 mgd according to another report I found. They could still get some water treated, but maybe you should start thinking about some infrastructure upgrades. I moved out to OP two yrs ago and we got good water from waterone. You have a different department of Utilities than you did 2 years ago, that's for sure.

monkeyspunk 9 years, 11 months ago

That would indeed be interesting to know bozo. How much to pay for empty houses, in empty neighborhoods with magically green lawns to attract buyers?Maybe someone could enlighten me, I was wondering when was the last time Lawrence instituted a water ban? With the situation at the lake with sediment, and now a possibly failing intake on the river, shouldn't the city be looking to conserve fresh water as much as possible?

Mike Blur 9 years, 11 months ago

It's best to pay the 12 percent increase,or you could wind up like Morehouse, MO residents. Morehouse city leaders are saying it's ok to drink pink water.

Ceallach 9 years, 11 months ago

Another increase, and the water is still not fit to drink.

Confrontation 9 years, 11 months ago

Such much money for such a poor standard of living.

LadyJ 9 years, 11 months ago

We just had an increase, maybe not for the water part but in other parts of the bill. We have an empty house that we keep the water turned on but use no water. A few months ago it went up from $25 to $28.82 which includes a $9.48 sewer charge and $2.65 water charge which is automatic although no water is used. Not to mention the 12.68 trash (no trash) charge. Now this is free money for the city. So any landlord that keeps the water on when the unit is empty, the city gets this free money also. I knew a couple of kids at my daughter's elementary school that had been without water for three months because the mother couldn't afford it.

ksdivakat 9 years, 11 months ago

WHAT???? Lawrence is in the "average" compared to other cities?? I call Bullshirt! I pay on average 90$ a month, and there are only 3 of us there! We dont water lawns, we dont fill up pools, we just shower, drink, and cook with water and we are paying out the ying yang! it costs more for sewer than water, and I have friends in both topeka and KC and none of them pay anywhere near that for water a month...its just another way for the city of Lawrence to screw the community without so much as a kiss!!

workinghard 9 years, 11 months ago

OK, here's a little tip to cut your bill. Your sewer rate is set by your water usage during December, January, and February. During those months use as little water as possible. Take shorter showers, use less water for baths, and flush the toilet every other time or every third if you can take it (unless of course someone has a bowel movement). Get your winter clothes and blankets out to wash in early November, and any other laundry that is only done occasionally. Any other things you do (fill a water bed) that uses a lot of water, don't do during those months, and to be safe, into the first half of March. It can cut your bill by $10 or more a month for the next year. I have done this for years, spread the word.

Alfred_W 9 years, 11 months ago

Here in the land of fun and sun,We never flush for number one.

craigers 9 years, 11 months ago

Once again, utility companies don't plan for maintenance and pass every bit of their lack of planning on the customer. Poor planning, higher rates, gas prices, etc means Lawrence will probably start to decline in the yearly Census. It will lose its bedroom community attraction for people. Too expensive to commute and too expensive to live here!!!!

storm 9 years, 11 months ago

Sounds like a bargain - regulated water over unregulated water which is the stuff sold in bottles.

Richard Heckler 9 years, 11 months ago

Over the last 25 years the chamber/developer commissions built a city that cannot afford itself. Why should east Lawrence neigborhoods pay an additional sales tax for street repair when they have been paying for maintenance for up to 30-100 years?Where's the money? How about an audit by a totally uninterested party?The greater majority of county commission candidates on both sides of the aisle are Chamber thinkers. The County commissioners have done their fair share by allowing like development throughout the county. Remember this in November.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.