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Council OKs 15 percent water rate hike
Funds will cover the cost of current water line improvements
new deh more city water rate increase pic web
Shown is a stack of new water line pipe awaiting the start of a water system improvement project in Great Bend. City water rates will go up 15 percent to offset the cost of the work. - photo by DALE HOGG Great Bend Tribune

 In light of the massive water line replacement project that will soon be underway in Great Bend, the City Council Monday night approved a 15 percent water rate increase to pay for the bonds needed for the effort, City Clerk Shawna Schafer said.

Schafer told the council that a water system revenue projection was done looking at a five-year projection, with the bonds in mind. “Our revenue was less than our expenditures.”

With the hike, “this will be a wash,” she said. This is the first increase since 2012.

The raise will go into effect Oct. 1 and will be based on a three-month average.

For most Great Bend water consumers, this means there will be a flat base rate ranging from $10.12 to $15.50, depending on the meter size, according to the ordinance passed Monday. On top of that is the cost of the water: $2.54 per 1,000 gallons for commercial and residential users; and $2.97 for the first 10,000 gallons and $1.28 per 1,000 gallons thereafter for hospitals, schools and nursing homes.

Not included is the Westport Addition, which encompasses the Industrial Park west of town. Rates here will remain the same.

What is included

Involved in this current work are 18 water lines totalling 35,000 linear feet. This project consists of the water main replacement on 10th Street from Main to Washington and Main Street from 10th to 19th as the first phase.

Crews will get to work this week. The first phase will be the 10th Street stretch.

Construction will continue over the next several months. This project will take place in phases with advance 10-day notifications to business owners adjacent to the project. 

The issue dates to 2016 when the City Council approved a $6 million bond issue for water system upgrades with eyes on replacing many of the city’s 60-year-old cast iron water pipes with poly-vinyl chloride pipes. In June, the City Council accepted the low bid of APAC-Kansas Inc. Shears Division of Hutchinson for $3,787,417.

Of that, $1 million was to be set aside for engineering services, designing and new water meter installations that can be handled by city employees.

This left $5 million for the water line replacements. 

Work ahead

As for the construction, typical construction hours are Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. during the summer and 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the winter. Due to the nature of the work, changes to traffic patterns should be expected. Motorists are encouraged to use extreme caution when traveling in the area of construction and to be aware of workers in the work zone. On-street parking in and near the immediate work area will be temporarily closed as needed. 

City officials said they appreciate the patience of motorists and residents while this work is being performed. Contact Karl Otter, engineering technician at 620-793-4111 with questions regarding this project. 

The city purchased the water system in 1999 and inherited a lot of problems. At that time, there was a $2.5 million bond issue to improve lines on 10th Street from Washington to McKinley and Grant Street to what was then Central Kansas Medical Center.