Baldwin City makes new water purchase agreement with Lawrence

Baldwin City has made a new agreement to purchase water from the City of Lawrence and will soon stop buying raw Clinton Lake water directly from the state.

The new contract sets the Baldwin City wholesale purchase price for treated water at $3.81 per 1,000 gallons starting Jan. 1, 2020. That is a 15-cent increase from what Baldwin City currently pays Lawrence for treating the Clinton water that it buys from the state. The Baldwin City Council approved the agreement on Nov. 19.

But the new contract doesn’t just change the price of treated water; it also changes the model by which Baldwin City pays for its water.

Under the old model, Baldwin City and several rural water districts negotiated their own contracts with the Kansas Water Office to purchase raw water from Clinton Lake, and they made separate agreements with the City of Lawrence to have the water treated. The new agreement changes that structure. Going forward, Lawrence will be buying the raw water from the Kansas Water Office and treating it, and Baldwin City and the rural water districts will be paying Lawrence for both the raw water and the treatment services.

Baldwin City Administrator Glenn Rodden told the City Council that the agreement would be a better deal for the city than continuing to deal directly with the Kansas Water Office.

The old contract with the Kansas Water Office dates back to 1979, Rodden said, and it allowed Baldwin City to purchase raw water from the lake at a cost of 10 cents per 1,000 gallons. But that agreement expires at the end of the year. If Baldwin City were to make a new 40-year agreement with the water office, Rodden said, the raw water price would jump to 42 cents per 1,000 gallons and would increase by 3% each year.

Lawrence, meanwhile, has access not only to Clinton Lake’s water, but also to the much cheaper Kansas River water rights. That means Baldwin City’s raw water cost will be 25.8 cents per 1,000 gallons under the new agreement. The raw water cost is not included in the treated water purchase price of $3.81 per 1,000 gallons.

Other than the fact that Baldwin City will now be paying Lawrence for raw water as well as treatment services, the new agreement looks a lot like the two cities’ old agreement, said Rodden and Baldwin City Mayor Casey Simoneau. That deal, which dates back to 2012, tied Baldwin City’s costs to the rates within the City of Lawrence. If Lawrence residents’ rates went up, Baldwin City’s bill would go up by the same percentage.

“They (Lawrence) do not ever want to lose us as a customer,” Simoneau said. “We are the second largest customer they have after KU.”

The new agreement will also allow Baldwin City to purchase up to 500 million gallons of treated water a year, or roughly double what it could divert from Clinton Lake under the old Kansas Water Office agreement. Simoneau said that would put the community in a good position to grow.

Editor’s note: This article was corrected to reflect that the raw water costs are not included in the fee Baldwin City will pay Lawrence for treated water. Baldwin City will pay Lawrence the raw water fee in addition to the treated water fee.


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