Purchase photos

City aims to reduce water use





Water issues will serve as the dominant theme of Thursday's Hays City Commission work session at 6 p.m. at city hall. The meeting will start 30 minutes earlier than regularly scheduled.

In an attempt to curb wasteful watering practices within the city, staff will recommend to city commissioners the implementation of an additional water conservation tier.

Average city customer water usage is determined based on January, February and March water usage. All water usage is billed using the base tier, which includes 100 cubic feet, plus $1.80 per hundred cubic feet.

The conservation tier allows for unlimited use at a price of $3.60 per cubic foot for usage over the average.

City staff will propose adding a second usage tier and limit usage in the first tier to 1,000 cubic feet at $3.60 per 100 cubic foot. The proposed second tier would charge $5.60 for all usage exceeding the water average plus 1,000 cubic foot. In the event of a water warning or emergency, the second tier would be raised to $7.20.

Under the new rate structure, 80 percent of Hays water customers would see no rate change, said Paul Briseno, assistant city manager.

"We wanted to make sure we were not impacting those who were using water wisely," he said. "However, the top 20 percent of users who use 44 percent of residential water, primarily on landscaping when water sources are most critical, will be affected."

Briseno said in July 2012, the city's top residential consumer used approximately 23,600 cubic feet of water in one month. That amount, Briseno said, could have supplied water to 34 homes for one month, based on average winter usage.

Other water-related agenda items include:

* A presentation of the Big Creek study by Brian Meier of Burns and McDonnell.

* A recommendation by city staff to halt the practice of providing water to customers outside city limits.

* An amendment to the city's conservation plan, including an update to the drought response plan.

* Current status of water supply.

* Lowhead dam study.

* Conservation programs in the works for 2014 and beyond.

* Demonstration gardens/turf conversions of existing facilities.

* Ranch costs.

Additional agenda items include:

* Commercial insurance renewal for 2013-14.

* Overlay of 13th Street from Vine Street to Harvest Road.