Private water wells must comply with Ellis regulations

ellis logoellis city logoellis street shotellis logoellis logoellis logoDRAFT MINUTES NOT OFFICIAL UNTIL APPROVED BY COUNCIL


Minutes November 4, 2013


Mayor Lyle Johnston called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m. Present were Council members John Leiker, Jolene Niernberger, Terry Redetzke, John Walz and Jeff Wolf.  Also present were Public Works Director Alan Scheuerman, City Clerk Amy Burton and Police Chief Taft Yates.  Council member Loran Gottschalk and City Attorney Olavee Raub were absent.





Buck Driggs, David McDaniel, Glen Keller, Sarah Staten, Cody Staten, Swede Holmgren (arrived 8:30), Tammy Leiker (arrived 9:40)


Councilmember John Leiker moved to approve the consent agenda containing the Minutes from Regular Meeting on October 21, 2013 and Bills Ordinance #1936. Councilmember Wolf seconded the motion. The Council approved the consent agenda unanimously.


Sarah Staten addressed the Governing Body about a large water leak recently at her residence at 305 W. 14th.  Eighty-three thousand gallons of water ran through her meter in one month.  Once the meter was read, the water was shut off immediately and the leak was fully repaired within several days of notification.  Ms. Staten feels she is being penalized for involuntary use of water since the water was charged to their account at the water conservation rate of $10.74 per thousand gallons.  Council then entered into a discussion regarding the current water leak policy and the intent of the conservation rate.  It was the consensus of Council to adjust Ms. Staten’s bill to reflect the charge for the entire water use back to the pre-conservation rate of $3.58 per thousand gallons.  The Council directed City Clerk Amy Burton to consult with City Attorney Olavee Raub on the process needed to make that adjustment.




County Commissioner and Ellis resident Swede Holmgren will appear later in the meeting as he had a County Commissioner meeting in Hays this evening as well.


Capital Improvement: Repair/Maintenance

Buck Driggs, Driggs Design Group, presented the Preliminary Engineering Report and the Environmental Report on the proposed waterline improvement project.  The documents are ready to submit to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment for approval and consideration for funding.  Councilmember John Walz moved and Councilmember Jolene Niernberger seconded a motion to approve the submission of the Preliminary Engineering Report and the Environmental Report to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.  Motion carried 5-0.

Emergency Preparedness: Contract

Public Works Director Alan Scheuerman recommended Council consider entering into the Program Agreement with the Kansas Mutual Aid Program for Utilities (KSMAP).  Mr. Scheuerman feels it will strengthen the City’s disaster mitigation plan and possibly improve our community rating for flood insurance.  Councilmember John Walz moved to approve Resolution No. 497 authorizing the City to enter into the Program Agreement with the Kansas Mutual Aid Program for Utilities.  Councilmember Jolene Niernberger seconded the motion.  Motion carried 5-0.

General Government: City Code

Council took under consideration a proposed ordinance amending Section 13-302 mandating building numbers on residential and commercial properties.  It was the consensus of Council to table this item until City Attorney Olavee Raub is present to provide guidance and clarification on Council’s questions.


Street: Repair/Maintenance

Public Works Director Alan Scheuerman reported that the contractor building the house at 21st and Walnut has requested that the City put in the street at 21st from Walnut, east to the alleyway.  The house under construction will have garage access to 21st, rather than Walnut.  The Department has already rented a compactor and laid in dirt and rock.  Mr. Scheuerman asked for direction on what type of material to install as the top layer for the street.  The street is not planned to be fully constructed until Phase II of the TIF project, which could be late 2014. Councilmember John Leiker moved and Councilmember John Walz seconded a motion to authorize the Public Works Director to install a top layer of sand on 21st Street, from Walnut east to the alleyway.  Motion carried 5-0.

Public Works: Special Project

Public Works Director Alan Scheuerman reviewed with the Governing Body information from the Kansas Department of Transportation regarding grant funding available for bicycle and pedestrian paths.  The program requires a 20% hard match and must meet certain eligibility requirements.  Council was not interested in pursuing the project at this time but may reconsider in the future.


Public Works

Personnel: Position Change

Public Works Director Alan Scheuerman would like to re-create the crew foreman position in the Department.  This item will be tabled until Council has an opportunity to review the proposed job description.

Sewer: Repair/Maintenance

Mr. Scheuerman presented two bids for manhole repairs.  Mayer Specialty Services submitted the low bid of $8,792.30 and will reduce that price by $1,500.00 if the work is scheduled in conjunction with other work in the area.  Since this is not an emergency repair, the City could take advantage of this additional discount.  City Clerk Amy Burton would like to table this item until closer to the end of the year to verify funds and adequate budget authority are available.


County Commissioner and Ellis resident Swede Holmgren visited with those present about the Governor’s Conference he attended October 24-25th, where Governor Brownback presented his 50-year plan for water issues within the State of Kansas.   Unfortunately, western Kansas does not have 50 years to plan for water issues, but is closer to 5-7 years at the current water depletion rate.   Mr. Holmgren feels Ellis may be worse off than any other town in Kansas due to the lack of recharge in its wells and the lack of a viable long-term water source.  He noted that the High Plains Aquifer and the Ogallala Aquifer are one and the same, and it is being depleted at an astronomical rate – down 11’ in three years.  Mr. Holmgren recommended the City contact the Environmental Services Office to find out when the permits expire for domestic wells within the 3 mile radius of the City and start a petition at the time of renewal to submit to the State stating the wells adversely affect the community water supply.  Mr. Holmgren challenged the Governing Body to make a community-wide effort to educate the public of the water issue.



Police Chief Taft Yates reviewed the November officer calendar.  He also noted that the Department has narrowed down the applicant search to six viable candidates.  Chief Yates hopes to begin the interview process in December.

Special Machinery: Disposal – Police

Chief Yates presented an Auction Engagement Agreement with Purple Wave Inc. to sell the 2007 Ford Crown Victoria.  Councilmember John Leiker made a motion to authorize Police Chief Taft Yates to sign the Purple Wave Auction Engagement Agreement listing the 2007 Ford Crown Victoria for sell on its auction site.  Councilmember Terry Redetzke seconded the motion.  Motion carried 5-0.

Personnel: Exit

Chief Yates reported that Officer Smull is actively seeking a law enforcement position in Colorado and has given a tentative last date of employment as December 31, 2013.

City Clerk

City Clerk Amy Burton reported the State has approved the City’s request for authorization to require private domestic well owners within the City limits to comply with water conservation measures as outlined in the City’s Water Conservation plan.  The letter extends the City’s authority through December 31, 2014.

Ms. Burton continued by reporting that Bob Redger, manager of Golden Belt Co-op, has informed the City that KDHE has allowed the Co-op to delay pumping the contamination wells.  KDHE will continue to monitor these wells for the next eighteen months.


Councilmember John Walz would like Council to review the water violation penalty section of the Water Conservation Plan.  He also inquired about an ordinance allowing automatic rate increases for utility rates.  With talk of the campground expansion last meeting, Mr. Walz would like to see the Campground Committee reactivated. He would also like to see possibly forming a regional water advisory committee to push legislators to help with the severe drought conditions in western Kansas.

Councilmember Jolene Niernberger noted she has visited with Representative Sue Boldra and Senator Ralph Ostmeyer about the drought conditions and encouraged other Council members and the Mayor to do the same.  She would also like to see the Water Advisory Committee look at potential exploration of water sources and strengthen restrictions of watering under Stage 2 Water Emergency.  Ms. Niernberger thanked County Commissioner Swede Holmgren for his informative presentation to Council earlier in the meeting.

Councilmember Terry Redetzke questioned the revised police department holiday pay policy approved at the last meeting, in which he was absent.


Councilmember Terry Redetzke moved and Councilmember John Walz seconded a motion to adjourn the meeting.  The meeting adjourned at 9:44 p.m.

  • hmmmm

    Us with private wells inside the city limits were already told we had to follow these regulations. Was we informed wrong?
    Does this also involve people that live on the edge of town who water everyday or sale their water to others? All of this water comes from the same aquifer, and honestly we are losing the same amount if not more, becuase some of these individuals are raking in the money by selling their water now.

    • HonorableLJ

      The city’s authority from the state for private wells expires on December 31st, and they opted to ask for the regulation again for 2014. The city has no authority of wells outside the city limits.

    • A_citizen_patriot

      Selling the water should be their right. The oil industry needs it and so do farmers. But watering their lawns, give me a break, I have a well and I would never water my lawn with it. I have little grass left on it, but at least I didnt waste thousands of gallons so I could look at a green lawn.

    • passin_threw

      why would you think the city should be able to dictate to someone out of their jurisdiction?
      isn’t this guy just living in a world of free enterprise? something, you’d like to do by opening a shop downtown

  • Actual Ellis Resident

    Swede is not actually a Ellis resident……he lives about 20 feet outside the city limits!

  • Darwin

    Here is an idea. As much as I hate to say it we need to control a lot more of the irrigation wells that pull from the same place. They waste more water than towns could ever hope to. I know it sucks because agriculture is our #1 cash crop (No pun intended) but we must stop planting Moisture intensive crops in an area they were never intended to grow in. Just my .02

    • bobo

      the big time irrigators in western kansas have too much money invested for regular folks to be telling them what to do. even ol’ brownback takes a back seat to them. too much of a political machine. it’ll only happen when the day comes that turn on those gigantic water machines and nothing comes out.

    • A_citizen_patriot

      I agree but most of ellis county does not irrigate.

  • mad as a hornet

    we have water supply problems yet some yutz has to put in a big pond that serves no purpose besides giving his gf a place to swim. yeah, that’s good use of resources

    • A_citizen_patriot

      Did he fill the pond from a well or did it fill up with rain fall?

      • mad as a hornet

        rain? really??? if there had been enough rain to fill the pond the creek would be full. there is enough water to get your ankles wet by the dam

        • A_citizen_patriot

          Hey just asking, didnt know if these was recent or a few years ago

  • Rainmaker

    Why do we keep building houses if no water?
    Why do we allow farmers to irrigate?
    Why do we allow any irrigation of any form?
    Why do we use this water in oil field?
    Why do we water the golf course?
    Why do we water the ball fields?
    Why do we protect the lakes for recreational use?
    Why do we water gardens?
    Why do we water trees?
    Get my point, SPECIAL INTREST!!!
    Everyone want to use for one thing or another.
    Publicity like this why nobody want to move to Ellis Co anymore