WICHITA, Kansas – The City of Wichita depends on Cheney Reservoir for its water supply, but that could all come to an end by August 2015.
City leaders are proposing several changes including some to the fire department to prevent that shortage.
A warning message has been spreading across town.
“The current projection shows that Cheney will be dry and not yield drinking water as soon as August of 2015,” said Strategic Services Manager Ben Nelson, Wichita Public Works and Utilities.
Wichita department heads are meeting to discuss ways to minimize their water usage, and that’s including the fire department.
In an email obtained by KSN News, we’ve learned that the Wichita Fire Department is considering several options to conserve water on their part.
One option reads in part, “Do not wash department vehicles, tools, and equipment or spray station floors unless it is needed.”
Another includes considering, “Modifying our hydrant inspection program.”
With the last option reading, “All non-essential water use, such as spraying down citizens during our community risk reduction programs, and washing of personal vehicles is to stop immediately.”
Those citizen spray downs are similar to this one, the Wet-n-Wild Days at the Sedgwick County Zoo.
While those events are still on because they’re provided by Sedgwick County Firefighters, the zoo is working with county leaders to make modification to reduce water usage.
“We have a couple of different ideas as to how we might help conserve water during this event,” said Public Relations Marketing Manager Melissa Graham, Sedgwick County Zoo. “We do rotate around the number of times the firemen spraying the kids down so it’s a 20 minutes on and 10 minutes off.”
Strategic Services Manager Ben Nelson tells KSN News the conservation plan for the fire department will not affect how firefighters put fire out.
“The full intentions of the city is that the fire crews will have the full amount of water that they need to provide an adequate level of protection to Wichitans,” said Nelson.
The Wichita Fire Department will work to finalize its water conservation plan in the coming weeks, but it would need to be approved by the city council and manager.
Experts say recent rain in Wichita has helped with the drought.
Cheney Reservoir is up about 4% since the start of the year, but it’s still only at 62% full.