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WICHITA, Kansas — Wichita city leaders say Cheney Reservoir could run dry as a Wichita water source in just two years. They’re proposing some big fines if you use too much water, including a fine of up $1,000 if you use three times the water you consume in the winter months.
“Well, the one thousand dollar fine is a proposal,” explains Joe Pajor with the City of Wichita. “The point of the fine is to get people’s attention and make sure that they don’t go there. So it’s arguable and it’s different for each individual. What dollar amount would be the point where they say I don’t want to do that? It’s also important to understand that there is a warning in the current proposal for the first month so the people know this is not good, I can’t let this repeat, or it will have a significant financial consequence.”
Pajor got in front of a small group of students at Friends University Thursday night, to explain the position the city could be facing, if something is not done.
“The decision on our proposal will be up to the (city) council,” explains Pajor. “But right now we are helping them understand and engaging the public so they can help council members make decisions.”
some of the students listening to Thursday’s city presentation on water, got to voice their opinions their opinions.
“Yes. A fine of a thousand dollars seems like a lot of money,” says Friends University Student Andy Nixon. “But Cheney provides, what, half the water for Wichita.”
Actually, it’s 64 percent of the water supply. Most of the rest comes from wells. The city says if nothing is done, and we have a continued drought, the usable water in Cheney will go dry in just two years.
Nixon agrees, something has to be done.
“I think if somebody went and looked at the level of the water they would realize what it is,” says Nixon, who used to live near the reservoir. “There’s a place at the spillway where we used to swim and there is a cement slab that we used to swim on and it was level with the water. And now you go down there and it is ten feet below.”
Wichita leaders say, while it’s ultimately up to the council to decide on what to do with Wichita’s water, there will be a number of options on the table. Another option includes building a pipeline from ElDorado reservoir to Wichita for more water.
“The pipeline to ElDorado is definitely under consideration,” says Pajor. “For our long-term water supply. But, in terms of a drought response measure it does not seem feasible to help us significantly in the drought we are already in the middle of.”
Pajor says some ElDorado officials estimate a pipeline could be constructed in about two years. Pajor estimates it could take five or six years.