Archive for Thursday, July 1, 2004

City’s population grews an estimated 2.7 percent

July 1, 2004

De Soto added an estimated 126 new residents in the 12 months before July 1, 2003, growing to a population of 4,858, according to figures released last week by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The estimate indicates De Soto grew at a quicker rate during that 12-month span than it had in the two earlier years since the official 2000 census. The estimate indicated De Soto grew at about 2.7 percent from July 1, 2002 to July 1, 2003. The latest estimate has De Soto growing by 6.5 percent since the official 2000 census.

At first glance, that appears an impressive growth rate in a state where a majority of smaller communities and many counties decreased in population. But De Soto is in the Kansas City metropolitan area, which with the area surrounding Wichita, bucked the trend of declining populations. Although cities in neighboring counties such as Eudora and Tonganoxie saw impressive population increases, Johnson County accounted for nearly all the growth in the metro area on the west side of the state line, with an estimated 10,506 new residents, growing to an estimated population of 486,515.

Two Johnson County cities stood out among the figures. Spring Hill, which straddles the Miami County line, recorded the largest estimated population increase in state at 11.7 percent.

But Spring Hill did that by adding 198 new residents from its estimated July 2002 population of 3,353 residents. Olathe's percentage increase may have been smaller, but it grew at 4 percent by adding more than 4,000 residents to its estimated July 1, 2002, population of 101,219.

De Soto seems unlikely to post those kind of growth rates anytime soon.

One of the constraints to growth is limited sewer capacity that had the City Council and Planning Commission agreeing in May that the city might have to impose a moratorium on building permits until the city builds a new sewer plant, expands it current facility, or otherwise adds capacity.

That discussion came as the firm Shafer, Kline & Warren Inc. was starting a sewer master plan for the city to look at capacity expanding options. City Engineer Mike Brungardt said the consultant was preparing for an important interim report that would help provide the City Council with information it needed to determine just how much existing capacity the city could comfortably give up to new development.

First indications were that the city had remaining capacity for new development but needed to be mindful of the limits, Brungardt said. But he the Kansas Department of Health and Environment would now be given a chance to look at the numbers developed in the study.

"We're taking that information before the KDHE to open up a dialogue about how the sewer discharge permit will be administered," he said.

Just what the state had to say about that would have a big bearing on how much capacity the city should reserve, Brungardt said.

"In my and our consultant's experience, it's rare for a community to take such a proactive approach to utilities," he said. "Cities usually wait until the KDHE informs them they are exceeding discharge limits before taking action.

"The City Council has taken the position we want to be as environmentally responsible as we can possibly be."

The interim report with KDHE comment should be ready for the City Council's review this month, Brungardt said.

The complete sewer master remained on schedule for a late fall completion, Brungardt said.

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