Archive for Thursday, May 25, 2006

Council wants rate information before moving on water plan

May 25, 2006

Consultants with Burns & McDonnell came armed with a few newly crunched numbers to augment a recently completed water facilities master plan, but it was those figures not yet produced that were on the minds of De Soto City Council members.

Those still-to-be-produced numbers will reveal how much each of the five scenarios studied in the plan to supply De Soto's future water needs will cost customers. Burns & McDonnell engineer Jeff Klein said those figures should be available for the council's consideration within the next two weeks.

The figures developed in the draft master plan shared with the council last Thursday looked at the cost of supplying water in today's dollars through production or wholesale purchase from Olathe. The study looked at the upfront capital cost to have a solution in place by 2010 and ongoing operational and maintenance costs through 2040.

The newly produced numbers closed the gap between an option to build a new water plant west of the city and entering into a purchasing agreement with Olathe, but purchasing water from that city remained the cheapest scenario studied.

What stayed consistent was the finding that the water treatment plant at the Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant, which current supplies all the city's needs, has no future. Klein said the need to replace the World War II facility, its distance from De Soto's customer base and its design figured into that recommendation.

"It's old; it's in questionable condition," Klein said. "Your staff does a great job keeping it working."

It was recommended the city build a plant of a newer "reverse osmosis" design closer to the city if the council decided to produce water for its customers or those of the rural water districts. If the city did become the supplier of future Sunflower development, it was recommended a new plant be built on Sunflower.

Klein said reverse osmosis plants, which force water through filter membranes, cost less to build, expand and maintain than other plant designs. Another advantage is they don't produce settling waste, which needs to be hauled from the site.

One final advantage is they produce better quality water, Klein said.

Council members agreed they would need the rate study numbers before they could make a decision. When Klein said those should be available before the council's June 2 meeting, it was agreed to have a work session before that meeting to consider the new information.

Council members also agreed they would need to get a clear understanding of possible future customers.

"One thing I would like to hear is from the customers," Mayor Dave Anderson said. "I'd say if you really want to talk about this, let's get these people here and talk to them."

As Anderson pointed out, that discussion was all the more important because the study findings assumed the city would provide water to the future growth area to the south and west. That %area is served by rural water districts, principally Johnson County Rural Water District No. 6.

Anderson said he and city engineer Mike Brungardt had talked with the water district's officials and agreed they needed to keep in touch about how they could work together to satisfy future needs.

Officials with Johnson County Water District No. 6 indicated a willingness to supply the future needs of the growth area, a move that would require water towers and a distribution system far more complex than anything it currently has, Anderson said.

"That's a big step for them," the mayor said.

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