The City of Abilene, Kansas declared a Water Emergency pursuant to Section 7-1003 of the City Code to address continued stress on the public water supply arising from the extreme drought conditions in the area. Under a Water Emergency, the City Manager is authorized to implement various regulations designed to significantly reduce or eliminate non-essential uses of water.
The city has developed a Water Emergency Implementation Plan to communicate the various actions that will be implemented by the City to proactively address the extenuating circumstances that continue to stress the public water supply. The plan includes three levels with increasingly punitive actions for non-essential water use.
The City will refer to objective triggers designed by City staff to determine when to move to the next level of Water Emergency. The same triggers will also be used to determine when the City should move out of the Water Emergency. Level 1 of the Water Emergency Implementation Plan includes the following actions:
• Emergency water rates will be implemented. Residential water rates will double for all consumption above 15,000 gallons. Commercial rates will no longer decrease above 225,000 gallons, but will remain $0.325 per 100 gallons for all consumption levels. Increased emergency rates will also apply to water customers residing outside the city limits.
• New service connections fees will be doubled.
•The following uses of water will be suspended: bulk water sales, fire hydrant flushing, washing of the City fleet, rinse-out and inspection of water towers, and new tree plantings by the City.
The waste of water will be strongly discouraged.
Prior to the declaration of a Water Emergency, the City of Abilene had been in a Water Warning for 287 consecutive days. Recent precipitation, while good for the ground level conditions, will not affect the public water supply for several months. Because of this delay and the current condition of the City’s well fields, the City feels that it is prudent to take actions to encourage water conservation in order to allow the public water supply to recharge.
In addition to declaring a Water Emergency, the City also amended Section 7-1003(c) of the City Code allowing the City to seek the authority to regulate private, or domestic, wells from the Chief Engineer, Division of Water Resources, Kansas Department of Agriculture. This amendment does not automatically grant the City the ability to regulate these wells; the regulation of private wells would only apply in a declared Water Emergency, and only after the Chief Engineer has reviewed and approved the City’s request. At this time, owners of private wells are asked to
voluntarily comply with applicable municipal regulations concerning outside watering.
The Water Emergency Implementation Plan, and other information related to the City’s water supply, may be found online at: www.abilenecityhall.com/water. Questions may be directed to City Manager David Dillner at (785) 263-2550.