Archive for Wednesday, August 14, 2002

Despite rain ban’s still in effect

August 14, 2002

Mayor John Franiuk had a simple solution for lifting the water ban.

"We just need rain, man," Franiuk said Monday night.

Franiuk's request was granted Tuesday as more than two inches fell on the city, but the solid rain couldn't shake the water ban.

"It wasn't enough, but it's a start," Franiuk said on Tuesday.

The mayor, who has jurisdiction to lift the ban, predicted Tonganoxie would need about 10 inches in a month's time to call off the outdoor ban.

"That's just my opinion," Franiuk said. "I don't think this would be enough. I wish it would rain for about three more days."

The cool rain began to fall about four hours after a lively discussion was conducted at Monday's city council meeting. That discussion centered on the bulk water dispenser near the Tonganoxie Fire Department on East Fourth Street.

The city has drawn criticism from some residents, saying the dispenser shouldn't be used during the outdoor watering ban. The facility is open to anyone, including non-Tonganoxie residents.

The council did hike the dispenser water rate Monday, increasing the price from 25 cents for 50 gallons to $1 for the same amount. City Administrator Shane Krull established the fee to agree with the average charge a Tonganoxie resident would pay per gallon for the first 1,000 gallons.

But Gail Mailen, who moved to Tonganoxie from Texas last year, said the dispenser created an awkward situation and that the solution wasn't about money.

"I have a really big issue with people from out of town when we can't water a bush we brought back from Texas last spring," Mailen said.

Revenue from the dispenser goes toward the city's general water fund. As of Aug. 12, the city made $1,681.50 from dispenser water sales.

On July 15, which was one week before the ban, 48,400 gallons were drawn from the dispenser. During the ban, the amount pulled from the dispenser rose as high as 79,200 gallons on Aug. 5.

On Monday, 44,400 gallons were dispensed.

Tonganoxie resident Velda Roberts agreed with Mailen, saying the city shouldn't keep the dispenser open, while limiting residents' usage.

"It's all coming out of the same hole in the ground," Roberts said.

The council, however, opted to enact a price hike rather than close the dispenser.

"That dispenser's been here as long as Tonganoxie's been making water," Franiuk said.

Council member Pat Albert said the dispenser was available for people outside of Tonganoxie as well, and fellow council member Emmett Wetta said the station had to stay open.

"There are some legitimate reasons," Wetta said, noting that if businesses need the water for their livelihood, they should have first call.

Krull said population growth in Tonganoxie likely is playing a role in the city's water problems, but he said the lackluster rainfall still is the main culprit.

BG Consultants, Lawrence, the city's engineering firm, also presented the council with an overview on water sources for the future.

Some possibilities include renovating existing wells, contracting with local suppliers, or building new wells on city-owned land along the Kansas River nine miles south of Tonganoxie.

BG will have a more elaborate discussion with the council Oct. 21.

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