Archive for Wednesday, September 29, 2004

City approves water contract with BPU

September 29, 2004

The upcoming year will be packed with activity at Tonganoxie City Hall.

That's because -- after years of discussion -- city council members unanimously approved an agreement that will mean access to additional water for Tonganoxie.

Council members gave the go-ahead to Mayor Dave Taylor to sign a contract with the Board of Public Utilities in Kansas City, Kan., to provide treated water to the city. According to the contract, Tonganoxie must construct a 12-inch water transmission line to the city from the intersection of 142nd Street and U.S. Highway 24-40 -- a distance of about 10 miles.

In addition, the city must acquire easements for that water line -- and determine how to finance the $2.6 million project, which will run along the highway or Evans Road.

BPU has agreed to design the transmission line, at no charge.

"That would be a substantial savings," said City Administrator Shane Krull.

City officials hope other costs would be financed through a loan from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, and repaid through city fees and taxes over time.

"We'll look at new development and existing customers to finance the improvements," Krull said.

The cost to residents will depend on whether the city can secure the state loan. He said a $2.6 million loan at 3.8 percent interest would require annual payments of about $180,000 over the 20-year life of the loan.

"Currently, we have 1,500 metered accounts from the water sales standpoint," he said.

In past years, the city examined whether it could sink water wells along the Kansas River west of Linwood and move it north to Tonganoxie for treatment -- or treat it near Linwood and pump the treated water to Tonganoxie. That would have cost an estimated $8.2 million, Krull said.

The city has been courted during the past several months by Leavenworth City Water Department and Suburban Water Supply Company of Basehor.

Contracting with Leavenworth would require construction of a new water line.

Suburban would be selling BPU water -- acting, essentially, as a middleman.

"From an efficiency standpoint, it was deemed (by the council) to be best to deal directly with the purchaser," Krull said.

BPU will supply the city with a maximum of 1,500 gallons of water per minute -- with a requirement that the city pay for at least 50 gallons a minute. The cost will be $1.25 for each 100 cubic feet of water, plus a monthly charge of $160.

The city will continue to use water from the city-owned wells. And, in an emergency, the city would be allowed to sell water to Public Wholesale Water Supply District No. 6 -- which includes rural water districts 6 and 9.

"I think BPU has the greatest capacity to meet our growth," Krull said.

And they have the financial capabilities to expand their water-treatment facilities to handle increased demand, he said.

According to an engineering report on the city's water needs, Tonganoxie homes and businesses will demand 370,000 gallons a day in 2005 -- with a peak demand of 409 gallons a minute. The city's wells could provide about half of that peak demand. And water the city currently purchases from the wholesale district could contribute to that. But the city would fall short by nearly 50 gallons a minute during peak use, the report said.

In the future, that shortfall would be exacerbated by growth.

Krull said he believes the agreement with BPU will satisfy the city's water needs for at least 20 years.

"Coupled with the new wastewater treatment plant," he said in a memo to council members, "city officials will have addressed two critical infrastructure items associated with the community's ability to address growth."

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