Archive for Monday, March 2, 2009

City to hear about need for repairs to dam on Kansas River

March 2, 2009


City commissioners are set to discuss a multi-million dollar project that could have major impact on future water rates.

Commissioners on Tuesday will discuss the need to make major repairs to the Bowersock Dam on the Kansas River.

The dam plays an important role in keeping river levels high enough for the city’s Kaw Water Treatment Plant to operate properly.

The future of the dam — built in 1874 — has come into question after a city-sponsored engineering study and federal regulators have expressed concerns about the integrity of the structure.

The city has budgeted about $1 million to conduct some repairs to the dam, but leaders with the Bowersock Mills & Power Co. — which uses the dam to produce electricity — believe a larger project likely is needed.

Any additional city costs would need to either be funded by increasing the city’s water rates or by using property tax money.

Commissioners will have a study session at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday to discuss the issue. They also plan to discuss the issue at their 6:35 p.m. meeting on Tuesday. Both meetings are at City Hall, Sixth and Massachusetts streets.


50YearResident 8 years, 7 months ago

I could be wrong, but I seem to remember that the responsibility to maintain the dam was the holder of the 100 year lease on the dam! Isn't the 100 year lease holder the Bowersock Company?

Joe Hyde 8 years, 7 months ago

What needs to be repaired is the entire political and economic dynamic of this river dam. Time and again the dam needs work and public tax money (whether federal or local) does all the heavy lifting, with the owner of the dam contributing the least money. This while the owner of the dam enjoys a private income from selling hydroelectric power.

Thus the repeat need for repairs takes on the characteristics of hostage negotiations, where we taxpayers are the ones with the gun that's holding the most bullets being held to our heads.

I contend the time is long overdue for the city to buy out the owners of Bowersock Dam and make that structure become municipal property. If condemnation proceedings are necessary to accomplish this then conduct those procedings, same as when the city annexes outlying rural land for municipal expansion in the cause of the common public good.

If this were done, the status of today's dam would change to a publicly-owned combination water supply/hydroelectric operation. Whereas the way things have stood for far too many years is that it's been a privately-owned but publicly-funded operation. (Which is about as sensible as letting one single downtown business owner lay claim to profits earned by all the businesses that sit the entire length of Massachusetts Street between 6th St. and 20th St.

Keith 8 years, 7 months ago

The city needs to look into whether a weir dam just downstream of the water intakes would serve the same function at lower cost.

Chris Ogle 8 years, 7 months ago

Wonder how many consultants the city hired in the last couple of years?

No, forget it.... they would have to hire a consultant to answer the question.

Justin Roberts 8 years, 7 months ago

Let the dam fail, we can just get our water from Clinton Lake. Oh wait, Clinton Lake is silting in. We can use ground water, nope the aquifer is drying up. Better repair the dam!

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