City makes plans for facing future water shortages

WICHITA, Kansas — Across the state, officials are working to figure out the apparent water shortage issue facing many cities. The plans are looking at the next 50 years and how to keep residents and farmers sustained.

The situation was addressed today by the Kansas Water offices, planning what they call a vision for the future of water in Kansas. But with years of water rate increases, KSN wanted to know if residents can expect any relief in the coming years? The answer doesn’t seem too promising.

It’s an issue that has people talking.

KSN asked Craig Muehlhauser, a Wichita resident, if he had noticed any changes with his water bill.

“Yeah, constantly going up. I don’t know why it has to go up every year,” said Muehlhauser.

Since bringing in their 10-year plan, officials estimate an average of a little more than a five percent increase in water and sewer rates for the next three years. Then slowly dropping off to a more modest three percent yearly increase and while officials with the city have heard the cries, they say the increases are needed to help maintain the water supply as well as provide necessary maintenance for years to come.

“To be responsible for the water you have look at it long term and some of the solutions for water supply and conservation are only gonna be accomplished over a long period of time,” said Alan King, with the Wichita Public Works Department.

He notes that many pieces of key equipment, like water mains, are breaking because of old age and normal wear and tear. But it’s not just about maintenance, the plan also helps fund the future of our water supply and unexpected complications.

“In non-drought conditions we have adequate water supplies now that would provide for our water needs into the future a ways. It’s the droughts that we also look at,” said King.

After last year’s record drought, officials aren’t willing to take any chances or cut any corners with where they stand.

“Short term, unless we find ourselves in another situation where we’re in a drought and we’re in another second year of that drought, I’d say pretty much what you’re seeing right now is what will continue into the next year,” said King.

So what does the future hold outside of those projected increases?

Public works officials say they plan to speak with the city council on April 8th to discuss potential water conservation plans and the possibility of a new water supply.

KSN will continue to follow this story and let you know how it may impact your wallet.

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