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McPherson Board of Public Utilities
The McPherson Board of Public Utilities Taking Steps to Ensure a Sustainable Water Supply for the Next Generation
December 6, 2019-McPherson, Kansas- For 50 Years, McPherson has trusted the McPherson Board of Public Utilities to provide safe, dependable water and electric services. While the BPU can generate more electricity to match growth and demand, increasing the freshwater supply to match growth and demand is not something that can be easily done.
Due to the declining aquifer around McPherson and the expected growth of McPherson, the Board of Public Utilities has been exploring ways to increase the water supply. “Since the 1980s, several different water sources have been investigated; however, the most favorable option (in terms of water quality, supply life, and quantity) is located 20 miles straight south of McPherson” explained Tim Maier, BPU General Manager. The chosen source, coined the South Wellfield, is a groundwater source outside of the McPherson Intensive Ground Water Use Control Area (IGUCA).
This supply will provide new water outside the local area and aid in achieving sustainability of the existing wellfield. “The two wellfields, combined, will offer a long-term water supply for the citizens of McPherson,” said BPU Assistant General Manager, Josh Bedel.
At their board meeting on December 2, 2019, the Board voted to move forward with the development of the South Wellfield.
In order to get the project started, a 15% rate adjustment was approved beginning in January 2020. This initial rate adjustment will increase revenue enough to allow BPU to procure right of way for the 20-mile pipeline. This rate adjustment will result in an average increase of $5.25 per month for a residential customer. The total project will consist of three new water supply wells, approximately 20 miles of pipe, and a treatment plant located in McPherson. The projected cost of this project is $27.6 million, which will result in an annual debt service of $1.72 million.
When the project is bonded, and construction of all phases are underway (estimated to be sometime in 2022), the average residential customer will see a $17 per month total increase on their water bill attributable to the project.
The decision to proceed was not taken lightly as it will require a significant investment by the community. Maier stated, “since receiving the water appropriation permits from the Division of Water Resources in November of 2017, the BPU has engaged in open dialog about McPherson’s water situation with community. The overwhelming sentiment from those meetings was that the downward trend in the aquifer is hard to ignore and would be unsustainable at the current water consumption rate“.
Currently, McPherson’s water rates compare favorably in the state. Despite the increase, McPherson’s rates will still be well within State averages.
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