Council members hear concerns about dispenser
When Mike Davis discovered the city's bulk-water dispenser had been closed for the winter, Davis was upset.
"It's very important to me since where I live I can't get a well or rural water at this time," Davis told Tonganoxie City Council members Monday night. "And there are a lot of us."
Davis and five other rural Tonganoxie residents underscored on Monday how they depend on water from the dispenser, which had been operating just east of the city fire station until recently.
And their dependence is not to fill swimming pools or to water lawns. It is to live -- daily.
Two weeks ago, council members instructed City Superintendent Butch Rodgers to cap the broken dispenser until March, when council members said they would decide whether to repair and relocate it, as part of a reconstruction project on the east end of Fourth Street.
At that council meeting two weeks ago, Rodgers had predicted that if the council decided to shut the dispenser down, the city would hear from rural residents who regularly draw water from it.
And Monday night, Rodger's prediction proved accurate.
Jim Reischman, 39, told council members that the city's provided water for sale for his entire life.
"I depend on it," he said. "That thing's been there forever. ... We have to have it. We go thirsty without it. It's as simple as that."
Now, he travels 34 miles round trip to obtain water.
"We haul our water to drink, to take a shower with," he said. "We do not water our yards. We do not waste one drop of water in the house."
George Downs, who also uses water from the dispenser to fill a cistern that pumps water into his home for household use, said the city stands to lose more than money paid for water, if rural residents must travel to Eudora or Oskaloosa to obtain water. He said they will spend money on gasoline and groceries in these towns.
"I want you to take that into account, too," Downs said.
Mayor Dave Taylor said he wanted Rodgers to obtain bids to determine what it would cost to repair the dispenser.
Council members Kathy Graveman and Velda Roberts said the issue is complex.
"I'm overwhelmed at the number of people that this is a benefit to," said council member Ron Cranor. "For the most part, I've seen this as a convenience. ... Most of us in the city don't pay any attention to it. We don't know what the need is."
Two weeks ago, Rodgers told council members that repairing and relocating the dispenser could cost $20,000. He said simply repairing the dispenser would run $1,500 to $3,000.
Council members asked that Rodgers provide the council with the cost to repair the dispenser.
"The sooner, the better," said Roberts.