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Archive for Thursday, June 9, 2011

Lawrence utility customers may see rate increase to cover needed repairs to Kaw River water intake

June 9, 2011

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Water intake valves on the Kansas River.

Water intake valves on the Kansas River.

Call it a $6.8 million reminder.

Lawrence city crews on Saturday were forced to shut down the Kaw Water Treatment Plant near Burcham Park as the rising Kansas River clogged the plant’s lone water intake pipe.

The city had to quickly increase the amount of water it was treating at the Clinton Water Treatment Plant in west Lawrence in order to meet the entire city’s needs.

“We were fortunate this didn’t happen in July or August when we had customers using large volumes of water,” said Philip Ciesielski, city assistant director of utilities.

The Kaw plant is designed to operate with two water intakes, but one of the water intakes has been inoperable for several years. City utilities department leaders have previously asked for funding for the project, but city commissioners have balked at the $6.8 million cost.

City Manager David Corliss said he plans to recommend that the project be funded in the 2012 budget, but he said it will require a rate increase.

“But I think one of our top priorities needs to be improving that intake on the Kaw River,” Corliss said.

Corliss said adding a new intake to the plant is particularly important, given that the one operating intake at the Kaw plant is now about 40 years old.

Corliss doesn’t yet have an estimate on how large of a water rate increase he may recommend to city commissioners. Whether rates go up will be decided by commissioners. Corliss last year recommended a rate increase for both sewer and water fees, but commissioners rejected the proposal over concerns that a rate increase would be too burdensome with the tight economy.

City crews started noticing problems at the Kaw Plant early Saturday morning. By 4 a.m., the city had shut down the plant and was working to blow out whatever was blocking the pipe.

Ciesielski said water plant operators routinely back flush the intake pipe — meaning water from inside the plant is pumped out of the pipe to clear it of debris. But as the Kansas River rose to flood stage, that became less effective. Ciesielski said crews had to hook up extra pumps to increase the amount of water they could pump through the intake pipe.

Meanwhile, crews began working to increase the amount of water that could be treated at the Clinton plant.

“There’s a process to that,” Corliss said. “It is not like taking the water hose from the front yard to the back yard. It is a lot more complicated than that.”

Ciesielski said the Clinton plant started sucking more water in from Clinton Lake, but he said it took about a full day to get the increased capacity online. Ciesielski said city crews noticed the problem early enough to prevent any major problems with water service. He said the city was able to fill all of its water towers prior to the Kaw shutdown, which was important to ensure that the fire department would have adequate water pressure to fight any fires that might arise.

The Kaw Plant was brought back on line by mid-day Sunday. Ciesielski said he doesn’t know whether it was debris, mud or sand that clogged the line. He said he doesn’t believe the blockage caused any permanent damage, but he’s not sure of that yet.

“The river level hasn’t dropped to the point that we can see it yet,” Ciesielski said.

City commissioners will consider water rate issues as part of their budget hearings this summer. Commissioners will set rates and approve a budget by mid-August.

Comments

wolfmn1958 2 years, 10 months ago

Wow,pay more for utilities. That's fine,the only problem I have is when it's all paid for,how about dropping the hike. Wait a minute,the commission will find something else to spend your money on or to raise taxes again.

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OldEnuf2BYurDad 2 years, 10 months ago

Kansas successfully sued Colorado for taking too much water from the Arkansas River (our grandparents filed that lawsuit back in the days of butter churns). The way I see it, this unwanted extra water is runoff from the streets of Topeka. Can we blame this on Topeka?

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Kat Christian 2 years, 10 months ago

Seems to me it has been mis-management for the past several years. Why wasn't this intake fixed in prior years when the economy was in better shape? Now when things are tight the city wants to drain more money from us to pay for something we need that they should have repaired years ago. My water bill has already increased, anymore I'll be paying almost $100 for just 2 people. Guess the Greed disease that caused this economic downturn has trickled down to small communities. This is what happens when important things like this are mis-managed by procastination and excuses.

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Bob_Keeshan 2 years, 10 months ago

Your insurance doesn't pay for your roof getting old. Your insurance doesn't pay for your pipes getting old. This is infrastructure, no insurance covers normal wear, tear, and aging.

It is bizarre the things some people project onto government entities.

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oneeye_wilbur 2 years, 10 months ago

Doesn't the city have a capital improvement fund? It always seems to have money to fix curbs on Mass? The city has no limit to funding studies. That will be the next expense with regard to the intake.

Got to have an Intake Study! It really amounts to finding out how much air the taxpayers are able to intake before they succumb to the debt of the city due to poor planning. Someone on another post referred to them as "amateur professionals".

If the city commissioners who have a business downtown need equipment replacement, do they not figure that in a five year business plan perhaps and raise the price of goods and services. I know it's hard to raise the price but the city commission cannot see the parallels and instead just raise the fees to the locals when the need occurs.

Could the Journal World actually ever provide a complete story about the money the city has in various accounts? List the amounts, the banks, the various financial investments. Revenue that is fixed and not fixed(i.e.sources).

Intake amounts to Out Take i.e. out of your pocket so that it can be taken IN>

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newb 2 years, 10 months ago

I thought intake water came from several wells along the sandy/silty banks of the Kansas river. Is surface water more difficult to treat without the natural pre-filtration that sandy sediments could provide? Are there several large pumps/wells along the river (i.e. one just west of the swing sets in Burcham Park)?

It would be interesting to tour the plant sometime if tours are offered to the public. Nice work to all involved getting the plant operational again.

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Zachary Stoltenberg 2 years, 10 months ago

Doesn't the city have insurance? I mean, if something went wrong with my house, something got clogged, and I had to come up with a chunk of change to repair it I would call my insurance agent. Yes there's a deductible, but that's why I have it, so I DON'T have to come up with a large sum of cash. Surely the city isn't stupid enough to not have protections in place for vital city services (i.e. water).

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oneeye_wilbur 2 years, 10 months ago

I would be more interested to know some specifics about the Bowersock plant and since this is upstream, could there be more to this than what is being reported or ever will be?

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Fedupwithrates 2 years, 10 months ago

Why is there need for increased rates? Looking at my water bill I used 1600 gallons for one person. Regardless of how much water you use, between fees and taxes, your bill is at least $35. I find that ridiculous for one person. I was technically only charged $8 for the water I used, so $35 in fees and $8 for water is $43 minimum a month. That is more per month than either gas or electric services. Find the money elsewhere for this renovation lawrence.

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Bob_Keeshan 2 years, 10 months ago

If a rate increase were to be discussed, it should be an increase for heavy users.

They place the strain on the system, they should pay more.

Such a rate increase would have two possible benefits - one, it would increase revenues or two, it would decrease usage. Either would be a positive.

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kernal 2 years, 10 months ago

Buh, buh we have to pay for the Library expansion!

Let's see. The value of my home has gone down fifteen percent, my taxes have gone up and I have to help pay for a library expansion that I was against. I warned people we would need that money for our infrastructure and here we are - already.

This is just the beginning folks.

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kernal 2 years, 10 months ago

Buh, buh we have to pay for the Library expansion!

Let's see. The value of my home has gone down fifteen percent, my taxes have gone up, I have to help pay for a library expansion that I was against, I warned people that we would need the money for our infrastructure and here we are.

This is just the beginning folks.

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KSManimal 2 years, 10 months ago

Never ceases to amaze me that folks complain about having to pay for clean water, wastewater treatment, and trash service.

If any of you teabagger folks think you can go off the public system and supply those three services to yourself for less money than the city charges you....go for it.

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autie 2 years, 10 months ago

I don't know what the city of Lawrence has in the way of water contracts with KWO for Clinton Lake but I assume the water rights from the Kaw have been in place forever and a day. I just can't believe anybody would drink it...(tongue in cheek)...the treatment plant must do a heck of a job as I heard the water from the Kaw would eat the copper of a penny.

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Kontum1972 2 years, 10 months ago

i saw plenty of auto sprinklers on when it was raining at a few of the banks in town....and other commercial orgs... in town...i dont take a dump in your tiolet why am i paying for it?

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Kontum1972 2 years, 10 months ago

gee it seems like everyweek these Weasels are begging for money....did any of these clowns take a business management course or do they make up this stuff as they go ....?

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melott 2 years, 10 months ago

  1. have you ever noticed that your water bill doesn't change much with how much water you use? might it help to charge heavy users? duh.
  2. “We were fortunate this didn’t happen in July or August when we had customers using large volumes of water,” said Philip Ciesielski, city assistant director of utilities.' Uh, how often do you need to water lawns when it is flooding? duh duh.
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3up3down 2 years, 10 months ago

It would seem that any system that is in moving water is going to suffer damage over time. Repairs or even putting in a new intake was inevitable. Looking deep into the future needs to be a priority of this municipality, not having to continue to do 'knee jerk' reactions when the problem surfaces.

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Richard Heckler 2 years, 10 months ago

Somebodynew is on target.

Ratepayers do not need a rate increase. We are being charged more for use of nature's water.

  1. Take the money from the millions in the general fund

0r

  1. Take the money from the millions in one of the city reserve funds

Rates are tax dollars which means the city wants to raise OUR taxes without a vote!

NO to the tax increase suggestion!

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somebodynew 2 years, 10 months ago

Why doesn't the City take the money that was set aside for the SE treatment facility that is now not needed and use it to repair the facility that is being used??? Which by the way, should have been planned for since no of this is a surprize.

This just looks to me like a way to raise rates and "blame" it on nature instead of just saying they want more money and taking the heat for it. And yes, before anyone asks, my letter to the commissioners is being written.

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oneeye_wilbur 2 years, 10 months ago

Willl see rate increases translates to Will Pay More, welcome retirees.

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