Drought forces Russell to look for new way to make money

FILE - In this Aug. 28, 2013, photo the sun shines through corn growing in a field. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
FILE - In this Aug. 28, 2013, photo the sun shines through corn growing in a field. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

RUSSELL, Kansas — More parts of the state are slipping back into a drought. The weeks of rain we got last summer are only a memory now.

About half of the state is in some sort of drought but one town is trying something new.

— Check out the Drought Monitor here.

The lack of rain the past few years has forced the city of Russell to look for new ways to recoup their losses and provide water when it’s available. A new plan would let citizens buy a special water permit for $25 but only when water is flowing over the Big Creek Dam.

“We have nowhere to store this water, once this water goes past our pump station on the Big Creek,” said Chuck Bean, a Russell city council member. “We have no way of capturing that water, so why not capture that water and sell it to the public. Give them a little relief from this drought.”

The city is charging for the permits because the cities water department has lost over $300,000 in revenue during the drought.

“The people are now adjusting to that and doing a good job for us and I just feel like it’s going to be to hard to enforce,” said another city council member, Norma Jean Cook.

The city of Russell has been in a stage four drought for a long time and some residents say that because of the drought they’re already good at conserving water on their own.

“I probably will not use it, cause we put barrels around our house, and caught rainwater last year and got along just fine,” said Russell resident Cathlene McClain.

While residents are split on if this is a good idea, one woman thinks the city is in a tough spot because of the drought.

“They asked us to conserve, we did, but then if there’s not enough water being used, then the city is left with not enough revenue, which goes back to the people. So I feel sorry. They’re caught between a rock and a hard place,” said Nancy Aspegren, another Russell resident.

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