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Hays to consider reducing water warning

7/9/2014

By MATTHEW KENWRIGHT and MIKE CORN

Hays Daily News

The Hays City Commission will be asked Thursday to consider stepping back from its decision earlier this year restricting water use, and instead move into a less restrictive phase.

The commission will meet at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in City Hall.

The move is being suggested as a result of recent rains that have boosted water levels in city wells along the Smoky Hill River. Water levels in wells along Big Creek have been slow to rebound, even though replenishing rainfalls also were recorded in the city.

Hays has been in a water warning since February, when Hays City Manager Toby Dougherty asked commissioners to approve a resolution moving the city into the second phase of the city's water conservation plan.

Thursday, Dougherty will ask commissioners to approve a resolution declaring an end to the water warning.

Passage of a resolution is necessary to move into a water warning to extend the warning's restrictions on outside watering to private wells in the city of Hays. A resolution also pulls back that restriction, moving back to a more normal prohibition against outside water use from noon to 7 p.m.

If commissioners agree with the suggestion, the city will remain in a water watch, which seeks voluntary water conservation.

At the height of the heavy rains in June, water flow in the Smoky Hill River peaked at more than 800 cubic feet per second -- more than 500 million gallons a day. That flow was relatively short lived, however.

Additional rains about two weeks later didn't push water levels as high, but the flow remained up for a longer period of time.

That extra flow pushed water levels in an observation well nearly 4 feet higher, well out of the pre-established water warning category.

Current projections suggest the wells won't fall back to the warning category for another year based on previous water use levels.

But Big Creek wells have been slow to rebound, barely showing an uptick even after the rains in June.

In other business, the city will consider:

* Commissioners will consider a 2-percent bonus for the duration of 2015 for the Hays Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 48 Inc.

* A fine might be enacted for owners of pools and hot tubs if they drain the water into unpaved alleys and right-of-ways. It costs an average of $2,150 to rehabilitate a damaged alley, according to city staff's estimate.

* Commissioners might authorize a $95,000 contract with a design engineering firm to assist with the reconstruction of 13th from Main to Milner.

* Mayor Henry Schwaller IV has proposed recognizing the new owner of Best Western Butterfield Inn, 1010 E. 41st.