Archive for Thursday, October 15, 2009

Douglas County RWD eyeing SFAAP water

October 15, 2009

De Soto city engineer Mike Brungardt shared information Tuesday on developments concerning the Sunflower water treatment with a potential customer.

The presentation at a meeting of Douglas County Rural Water District No. 4. Board of Directors came as work continues on a study of the feasibility of establishing a wholesale water cooperative supplied by the Sunflower water treatment plant.

Exploring the wholesale water supply district are De Soto, the city of Gardner and Johnson County Water District Nos. 6 and 7.

The concept is member jurisdictions would jointly own the Sunflower water plant and have a voting interest in its operation and management.

Scott Schultz, administrator of Douglas County 4, said Tuesday’s meeting was to gather more information on the options the board was considering for the district’s future water supply.

Those options include building a water treatment plant near the Kansas River alone or with partners or purchasing wholesale water from a number of cities or water districts. Among those proposals the board is considering are those that would supply the water district with water from Hillsdale Lake, a possible future water plant owned by other water districts west, the city of Lawrence or the Sunflower treatment plant, he said.

“We’ve been juggling seven or eight balls in the air,” he said. “As a manager, I’d like to drop five or six and get it down to one or two.”

Moreover, Schultz said Wellsville was under the same pressures and the water district and city might work together on some options.

Brungardt was invited to update the board on the status of the Sunflower plant, its water rights and a possible public wholesale water district supplied by Sunflower, Schultz said.

The water district needs 250,000 gallons on an average day or a peak day demand of 500,000 gallons per day, Brungardt said. It is projected its need will grow from 3 to 3.5 percent a year and equal an average daily demand of 500,000 gallons a day in 2030.

The water district fills its current needs with water purchased from Johnson County Rural Water District No. 6 — which wheels it water purchased from Olathe — and the cities of Lawrence and Baldwin.

The Douglas County water district’s current contractual agreement with the city of Lawrence to purchase water for $3.83 per 1,000 gallons. Brungardt said Lawrence can, and had, increase the rate on a yearly basis. That contract extends through 2015, he said.

Brungardt said De Soto, or a wholesale cooperative, could supply the water district with water for $3.13 per 1,000 gallons.

About a third of the water district’s daily need is supplied by its contract with Johnson County Rural Water District No. 6, Brungardt said.

“That price has been better than the price of Lawrence water, lately,” Schultz said. “We’re shifting as a district from Lawrence to Johnson County 6.”

His district’s contract with Johnson County RWD No. 6 expires in 2023, Schultz said.

There is a definite interest in purchasing additional water from De Soto or a wholesale cooperative, Schultz said, especially with the water district’s contract with Lawrence expiring in 2015.

“When we started meeting with other entities in the 1990s, the Kansas Water Office brought us all together and said, ‘You need to be planning 10 years down the road,’” he said. “It’s six years from the expiration of our contract with Lawrence, and frankly I’m getting pretty antsy.”

Douglas County RWD No. 4 didn’t help fund the public water wholesale district feasibility study — the first step in forming the cooperative — because its of its agreement with JoCo RWD No. 6, Schultz said. His district might be interested in full participation the future, especially should JoCo RWD 6 decline membership, he said.

The prospect of being of a full member with the opportunity to vote on water rates rather than have them established by another jurisdiction was attractive, Schultz said.

Although apparently lacking the urgency of Douglas County 4 or Wellsville, another possible future customer is Baldwin City, Brungardt said

That city also purchase water from Lawrence at the $3.83 per 1,000 rate, he said.

The Sunflower supply alternative to Baldwin would require installation of a 15-mile supply line, Brungardt said. The wholesale cost of water plus the cost of that capital improvement would have to be considered against the capital and wholesale water rates of the other alternatives, he said.

The Sunflower plant could handle the added demand. Should the cooperative be formed, it is estimated year one demand would be 1.2 million gallons a day. The Sunflower plant’s current capacity is 8 million gallons a day and could be expanded to 10 million gallons a day.

It is supplied with a well field with a current capacity of 2 million gallons a day and could increase to 3.5 million gallons a day with the rehabilitation of the five operating wells.

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