Archive for Thursday, July 17, 2008

Wise investment

No item on the city budget goes without scrutiny in these tight economic times, but the city is right not to put off an important water system improvement.

July 17, 2008


Even though it will involve slightly higher water bills for Lawrence residents, the Lawrence City Commission's decision to move ahead with an important infrastructure improvement is a good call.

The replacement of a water intake on the Kansas River will mean an increase of about 12 percent in city water rates in 2009, but it will buy a lot of peace of mind for city officials and the water customers they serve. The intake is the only way the Kaw Water Treatment plant can draw water from the Kansas River. Intakes on the Kansas River usually last about 30 years before being washed out. Lawrence's intake currently is operating fine, but it is 34 years old.

If the intake fails, the treatment plant must shut down, leaving the city dependent on the Clinton Water Treatment Plant for all of its water. Especially if that occurred during the high-demand summer months, that could mean water rationing and a lot of unhappy Lawrence residents.

Looking at the big picture, the project seems well worth about $3.15 on the average household's monthly water bill.

City officials need no reminder that these are difficult times for local taxpayers. Whether it's property taxes or water bills, many people are having trouble making ends meet. Because water bills are based on how much water each customer uses, local residents at least have some ability to control the size of their bills. Lawrence has always been blessed with ample water supplies, but prompting people to be more mindful of their water usage wouldn't necessarily be a negative trend.

As illustrated by the large backlog of street maintenance now facing the city, putting off important infrastructure projects often isn't a winning strategy. Even in tight economic times, moving ahead on a water system project that ensures continuation of a basic city service is a reasonable step.


igby 9 years, 9 months ago

This City Commission has spent over $1,000,000.00 on studies that offer little utility value to the general public yet fuels special interest wants without regard to reducing the budget. Seems that these study engrossed CC's would at lease have the water intake inspected by divers before they commit themselves and residents of Lawrence to pay for such a costly project. The current suction intake may last for another 20 years without and problems.At least have it inspected first. The Bowerstock Dam would seem a more pressing infrastructure weakness rather than the suction intake.Perhaps both of these infrastructure projects should be combined for a future project.

OnlyTheOne 9 years, 9 months ago

"could mean water rationing and a lot of unhappy Lawrence residents."Note "could" not would.Note why "unhappy...Residents?" Because they couldn't water their lawns for hours every week so that wasted water ran down the curbs into drains.This editorial brought to you by a fantastic dinner at a very expensive restaurant.

KsTwister 9 years, 9 months ago

"No item on the city budget goes without scrutiny in these tight economic times, but the city is right not to put off an important water system improvement."They have used the water system improvement to raise rates and taxes for the last 15 years. Someone needs to answer why they cannot plan in advance of our tax increases for the very thing for which they are asking. "In 2004, commissioners approved a five-year wastewater rate plan that increased the rates for many residents by 9 percent or more, in part, to pay for a $80 million wastewater treatment plant." Just to point out one of many.

monkeyhawk 9 years, 9 months ago

This editorial sounds just like the politician who is sticking it to us and telling us why we should say it feels good. Maybe we need to do this, maybe not, but it is a done deal, isn't it? So, why give merrill another opportunity to push his frivolous agenda? How about an editorial on wasteful city and county spending? Or a call for an independent audit, or for our new auditor to disclose what he has found and how he plans to remedy the problems?

Richard Heckler 9 years, 9 months ago

Why are more neighborhoods and housing being approved thus stressing the current water supply? Creating NEW cost to the city of Lawrence is not a sign of fiscal restraint.

Richard Heckler 9 years, 9 months ago

But what happened to the east Lawrence infrastructure maintenance funds that have come up missing after paying into this cookie jar 4-10 decades?Why should east Lawrence have to pay new sales taxes for infrastructure repair when the money already paid in cannot be accounted for? The least city hall could provide is new sidewalks and the eastside hike and bike trail without a new sales tax.

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