City officials looking east for water fix
Next Wednesday, Tonganoxie city council members and city officials will tour the Kansas City Board of Public Utilities as part of their effort to bring more water to Tonganoxie.
A proposed $2.6 million plan, which would include the installation of 10.2 miles of 12-inch iron ductil pipe, would more than fill Tonganoxie's water needs, said city administrator Shane Krull. And, it would allow for future water demands as the city grows.
"In this instance, BPU feels that they can flow 1,000 gallons a minute," Krull told council members Monday night.
Currently, Krull said, the city requires about 561 gallons a minute to satisfy customers' needs. Of this, the Tonganoxie city wells, located about a mile east of downtown, provide about 210 gallons a minute.
This means the city could have the potential of tapping into about 650 more gallons a minute as the city grows.
"You'd have the supply to address a lot of unknowns," Krull said.
Krull said that ideally, rather than buying water from other districts, it would be more cost-effective to use the city's own well water.
"But the reality of it is we can't get by on our own water anymore," Krull said.
City council member Ron Cranor asked if BPU could ensure that the 1,000 gallons a minute would always be available to Tonganoxie.
¢ Cross country to 150th Street.
¢ South to 150th Street and Evans Road.
¢ West to 206th Street and Evans Road (seven miles).
¢ North to Sandusky.
¢ West to the city water plant.
"I think we need a guarantee," Cranor said. "I don't think that we should be a shutoff if they have problems."
Krull said that's not a part of the plan.
"You'll never get an absolute guarantee that 'no we'll never shut you off,'" Krull said. "We won't get that from any of our providers. We don't have that from Bonner, either."
In 2003, the city of Tonganoxie used about 80 million gallons of water pumped locally, and purchased about 42 million gallons from the Public Wholesale Water Supply District No. 6, which council members commonly refer to as Bonner Springs.
"The original plan a year ago was to go with Bonner," Cranor said. "We identified the problem being lower pressure and a $1.2 million fix. Now we're talking about a $2.5 million fix ... What would it take with Bonner to get them to bump up their pressure?"
Krull said he didn't think it was possible at this point.
"As I understand it, they really don't have the ability without a substantial investment," Krull said.
Krull noted that Bonner Springs has a maximum capacity of supplying 800 gallons a minute, but it's split between Tonganoxie and two rural water districts.
Council member Velda Roberts said an adequate water supply is vital to drawing new businesses and industries to the area.
"Until we have a much better source of water and availability of water than what we have, we're not even going to be considered," Roberts said. "And if we don't get some businesses in here to help us, we'll have significant problems."
Cranor noted that the city's water concerns are nothing new.
"Those of us who have lived here for a while know fully well about the water problems," Cranor said. "... We just ran from it for years hoping it wouldn't catch us -- well, it caught us."
And, he said, citizens may not like it, but eventually, the cost of water will rise.
"The days of the cheap water are probably gone," Cranor said.