Archive for Thursday, July 10, 2008

Water discussion will benefit from public input

July 10, 2008

In the coming weeks the De Soto City Council will schedule a workshop on its water utility options. Although it has yet to settle on a date, council members have said they want to hear what the residents have to say at the workshop.

One of the options being considered would get the city out of the water production business with the purchase of water from the city of Olathe. There is some uneasiness within the community about such a move, already expressed to the council. The fear is Olathe would put its own needs foremost in a drought situation and the savings realized early in the arrangement would disappear once the city became dependent on an outside source.

Both those concerns are valid. And the city should not enter into any contract without full assurance either scenario will not occur. That might be easier to realize because the contract could contain benefits to Olathe that would also make it dependent on De Soto.

The other options are to do nothing and continue to operate the aging, inefficient Sunflower water treatment plant, refurbish the Sunflower plant or build a new plant.

Undoubtedly, there is a sense of ownership in the community of a water production facility that has given the city a much more reliable water supply than it had a decade ago. But it also is true that although the city - aided by very resourceful water department employees - can keep placing Band Aids on the Sunflower water treatment plant, there will come a day when a considerable investment will have to be made there. And contrary to past optimism there is nothing to suggest De Soto will find partners willing to share on that investment - not even Johnson County Water District No. 6, which has a service area that already includes some of De Soto and all of its future growth areas.

Those are some of the factors behind the options that will be discussed at the water workshop. We think it is important residents attend to see the numbers, hear the discussion and express their concerns. Hopefully, what emerges is a plan to give the city's water customers a dependable water source at the most affordable cost.

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