Pretty Prairie faces huge bill to fix water system

PRETTY PRAIRIE, Kansas – The small south central Kansas town of Pretty Prairie is facing a multi-million bill to fix its aging and contaminated water system.

Leaders of the town of about 680 people in Reno County say current estimates to repair the city’s water system could reach as high as $4.63 million.

A consultant report issued in May said the town’s water in 2013 had an average nitrate level of 19.85 milligrams per liter. The maximum should not exceed 10, and the state health department has put the town on its violation list.

On Monday the city’s council members indicated they want to reduce the size of the project, but the costs would still be in the millions — and some of that cost will have to be passed on to taxpayers.

“This, this proposal seems to me even with grants and things it is gonna affect people drastically,” said Norma Larson, resident.

Next week, city leaders will be going to Topeka to try to get state or federal assistance with the project.

“It’s 300 water meters, 300 residential water meters and you can do the math, even the 1.6 [million] is a burden,” said Steve Schrag, Pretty Prairie City Council.

The $1.6M would cover the new system to clean the water. But when you add in the water mains and repairing or replacing the water tower, that’s when the price jumps up to $4.6 million.

“Are you kidding? Are you kidding? Are you serious? I mean you know we did a little quick arithmetic and said holy cow, that’s gonna be $400 a year per household just to pay the interest.,” said Ed Markel, Former city council member.

The engineers recommended fixes such as an ion exchange program, lined lagoons, a new water tower.

Nitrate information

Nitrate health information from EPA

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