JULY 11, 2011
The Council of the City of Augusta, Kansas met in regular session on July 11, 2011, with Mayor Kristey Williams presiding. Council present were Holly Harper, Matt Childers, Michael Huddleston, Michael Wallace, Sue Jones, Ronald Reavis, and Matt Malone. Councilman Mike Rawlings was absent. Also present: City Manager Bill Keefer, City Attorney David All, Assistant to the City Manager Josh Shaw, Director of Electric Utility Bill Webster, and City Clerk Erica Jones. Visitors present were: Michael McDermott, Steve Compton, Tom Leffler, and Ray Jones.
Emergency Mandatory Water Restrictions: Keefer stated that the water numbers have not gone down since asking the community to voluntarily conserve. Keefer stated the forecast is for extremely warm temperatures and that there is no significant chance for relief in the near future. Keefer stated the water level in the lake has gone down about one foot in the last two weeks and that it will really take a toll on us in the next thirty to sixty days if we don’t get the usage under control. Keefer stated that the ordinance outlines provisions for mandatory restrictions. Keefer stated the goal needs to be to reduce the amount of water to below 3 million gallons per day. Keefer stated the council has been provided with a proposed notice but that there are still some decisions that need to be made. Keefer stated the notices will need to be mass produced and delivered door to door, it will be on the city’s website, channel 7, in the Augusta Daily Gazette, and on the news channels.
Keefer stated that it had been suggested that we have an emergency water rate provision in the restrictions. E. Jones stated that the current billing is on a tiered rate structure and that it would be possible to take a customer’s winter water average, add a certain percent to account for increased summer usage, and charge a higher rate for any usage over that amount. Huddleston asked if we could use the average winter rate and add a percent or flat amount to allow for heavier use in the summer. E. Jones stated that we could.
Malone asked if the last restrictions in 2003 led to any significant change in water usage. Keefer stated that the problem at that time was with the water plant and not the water supply, but that the restrictions did help. S. Jones asked if limiting the number of days for outdoor used reduced usage enough in the previous instance. Keefer stated that at that time the water towers almost went empty. Keefer stated people took it serious because there was an immediate risk to the city, but after the initial shock the water usage leveled off. Malone stated if the restrictions are implemented, there are customers that have to use water who can turn their timers on to water twice as much in two days instead of every day. Keefer agreed with Malone that this may not reduce the amount of watering. Williams stated this is just the first step, and that we should look at the rates in a week to see if there has been any change in usage. Williams stated there are people whose wells are going dry that are not switching their sprinkler system over to the city’s system, but are using hoses and small sprinklers ran from their homes to water their lawns.
Keefer stated there is a finite amount of water in the lake and at some point we will hit that wall if we do not restrict usage. Williams asked how much water is pulled from El Dorado in the winter months. Keefer stated it is around 1.5 million gallons per day. Keefer stated from November 2010 to May 2011 the entire amount pulled from both the city lake and El Dorado was less than 2.5 million gallons per day. Kristey asked how much of that 2.5 million gallons came from El Dorado. Keefer stated about 50-60%.
Childers asked if Mulvane will have to reduce their usage going forward. Keefer stated our contract with them allows us to proportionately reduce the amount of water we send to Mulvane with how much we reduce the amount used by Augusta. How Mulvane chooses to restrict their citizens’ usage of that water is up to them. Keefer stated the key component allowing for that per the contract is that we have to reduce our usage in order to reduce the amount of water sent to Mulvane. Williams asked if we reduce usage by 500,000 gallons per day how long that would help. Keefer stated that would allow us to draw water from the lake into September, but if we stay at our current usage we will not be able to draw from the lake as soon as mid-August.
When asked about the car wash, Keefer stated last time there were restrictions the car wash was considered a business and their usage was not regulated. Malone inquired about the golf course. Keefer stated the golf course originally used city water but then began using a well. Keefer stated they are now back on city water. Childers inquired about the current water usage at the golf course. Jones stated they used 198,000 during the month of June and had used over 300,000 in the first six days of July. Huddleston asked how the restrictions will apply to commercial businesses. Keefer stated they will not be able to water their lawns. Malone stated that watering at the golf course is pertinent to their business. Wallace stated it is the same for the car washes. Williams stated the golf course should be asked to reduce their usage. Malone stated they are only watering the greens once a day and the fairways once a week. Malone stated the notice should be redrafted without the golf course and allowing for people to use the car wash. Malone stated someone should also speak to John Black with the school district about their watering. Keefer stated he had.
S. Jones stated that structured rates will put a halt to excessive watering. Williams stated we are on the same page but that she thinks we should give them some time to see if they reduce without a rate change. Malone stated he doesn’t think we will see a big reduction in usage. Wallace stated that we can put that a rate change will be considered at the next council meeting on the notice. Williams stated it should say that a rate change will be approved at the July 18th council meeting and that they should check the city website to view the rate change. Malone stated the new rates should be effective from today moving forward. E. Jones recommended it being effective beginning on July 13th to coincide with the billing process.
Keefer asked if there were any thoughts regarding the pool. Williams stated right now it is the only relief for our citizens and that she would like us to keep it open as long as we can to provide that relief. Williams stated she would like to see the numbers on how much water is used to keep it full.
When asked about the Department of Public Safety, Keefer stated the County owns the building and that they informed him that they have shut off the irrigation system. Reavis stated the Department of Public Safety has reduced washing the fire trucks from every call to only once a day and have stopped washing personal vehicles. Huddleston asked if dirt affects the effectiveness of the truck. Reavis stated he was always taught that when you wash your truck you are checking your equipment. Williams stated it sounds like they are trying to reduce their usage and that she would like a report next week on how much they are reducing. Reavis stated they started those efforts last week.
Williams stated when we provide this to the public we should give them ideas on how we are trying to reduce our usage. Williams asked what would be the appropriate amount of time to get a lawn going. Keefer stated the best time to put a yard in would be in the fall and that it takes up to 30 days for sod to establish. Williams asked what our policy on that is. S. Jones asked wouldn’t that depend on where we are with our water supply. Williams asked how long those restrictions would be in place. Harper stated that Wichita developers are allowing credits for people for other landscaping options to minimize the size of lawns. Wallace stated Williams is asking us to predict the future, but this is the way it is until it changes. Williams asked if that means no new lawns. Wallace stated yes. Harper inquired about bushes and new ground cover. Williams stated they would only be able to water two days a week. Malone and S. Jones both stated that is where the emergency rates are necessary and should be tied to usage.
Keefer stated we had a process for registering wells the last time there were restrictions, but that we have no records of who currently has wells. Keefer stated people with wells will need more than just a sign and that we will need to verify that they are connected to a well. Keefer stated just having a sign saying you have a well will not exempt you from the restrictions, because some people with wells have changed back over to the city water system without obtaining a permit.
S. Jones inquired about enforcement. Keefer stated neighbors unfortunately are the best form of enforcement. Keefer stated the goal is to educate the public, give them notice of a violation, and then move forward with enforcing the restrictions. Malone stated higher rates will be the best enforcement. S. Jones stated those rates will need to be posted.
Williams asked staff to email the governing body on how Mulvane’s contract is worded to allow us to require them to reduce their usage proportionately to ours. Keefer stated it will be difficult to control the usage by Rural Water District #4 because they are metered off of our distribution system and we cannot slow down their flow. Williams asked about increasing their rates and Keefer stated their rates are set by contract.
Wallace made a motion to approve the proposed mandatory water restrictions effective July 12, 2011 with the golf course removed from the restrictions, allowing for the use of coin operated car washes, and noting that emergency rates based on water consumption will be approved on July 18, 2011 and be effective on July 12, 2011. Harper seconded the motion. Motion carried without opposition.
Adjourn: At 7:26 p.m. Wallace made a motion to adjourn. Childers seconded the motion. Motion carried without opposition.