Waterline sets up city for future
Tonganoxie turned the tap March 4 on a new water source.
That day, the city’s new waterline connecting the city to the Kansas City Board of Public Utilities became operational. Tonganoxie City Administrator Yanez said the $1.9 million BPU project went well and the projected nine-month construction schedule was completed in seven.
“All in all, it was one of the smoothest projects I’ve seen,” Yanez said. “We only had one or two change orders. They hit some rock but not any long stretches.”
All that remains of the project is some lawn cleanup and grading, Yanez said.
The city borrowed money from a Kansas Department of Health and Environment revolving loan program to pay for the projects. Yanez said when the final tally was known, the project would likely come in under the $1.9 million construction bid, which was significantly cheaper than the $3.1 million engineer’s estimate.
Residents didn’t experience a difference in water immediately as the city’s storage tanks were still filled with the water from the city’s previous water suppliers. Kent Heskett, city utility supervisor, said the city produced about 60 percent of its water at the treatment plant on Fourth Street supplied from two wells on the property, which were hand dug in 1920s. The remaining 40 percent was purchased from a rural water district with about half of that coming for the city of Bonner Springs and half from the BPU.
Unfortunately, the first noticeable change was cloudiness to tap water caused by air in the new line.
“It took a little while to get all the air out,” Heskett said. “The murkiness was just air. If you filled a glass, it looked like milk, but if let is sit it would settle out.”
Residents might also have noticed some taste from the new pipe, which is common with new lines, Heskett said.
They might also detect some difference in taste with the end of the blended Bonner Springs water and the minerals it contained. That difference could be more noticeable to those living south of Washington Street served by the middle school water tower, which is exclusively filled with the new line.
“Some people have called to say they noticed a change,” he said. “I’ve asked others, and they said they didn’t notice anything.”
Yanez said the city’s water supply may be a bit softer with the change but would still be considered hard.
Water customers get a complete annual analysis of their water in June with a breakdown of hardness and minerals, Haskett said.
Realizing the city needed to secure a long-term water source, the Tonganoxie City Council in 2003 sought requests for proposals from area water utilities to provide the city’s future need. The city of Leavenworth water utility and Suburban Water submitted proposals competing with BPU’s winning plan, in which it agreed to provide the design engineering for the waterline and oversight of its construction.
With the new waterline, the city now purchases water from BPU at the rate of $1.61 per 100 cubic feet, or 748 gallons.
The new waterline has prepared the city for the future. The city has its water needs satisfied until it reaches a population of 30,000, Yanez said.
“That’s a long time,” he said. “That’s a lot of new residents and lot of new commercial and industrial development.”