R9 Ranch: Long-term solution to water crisis set in motion
Hays City Commissioner Eber Phelps called a resolution to build a water pipeline from Hays to Edwards County a “historic moment” when a motion passed at Thursday’s city commission meeting.
The resolution of intent allows city staff to take the first official step in the long process of developing the R9 Ranch south of Hays as a future water source for the city.
“This is our go-ahead to begin the regulatory process. There are a lot of filings that have to take place with the Division of Water Resources before we can even think about the project and actually bringing the water up from the ranch,” said city manager Toby Dougherty. “So (passing the motion) sets the wheels in motion.”
Cost estimates for the project are approximately $65 million, and Dougherty has said the regulatory approval process could take between five and 15 years. A portion of the funding likely already is available, the result of special sales tax dedicated to fund water projects has been collected since 1992. Through the years, a reserve of approximately $27 million has been built up in the water project fund.
“On the big-picture scale, the city of Hays has been talking about water for 60 years now or longer and has identified many possible options,” he said. “R9 Ranch appears the most viable option when it comes to providing a long-term water source for Hays.
Commissioner Ron Mellick agreed.
“We have looked high and low, and (R9 Ranch) seems to be the only long-term feasible project we can do as far as supplying water for the city of Hays in the future — hopefully for 50-plus years,” he said.
Dougherty said city staff have run cost estimates on the $65 million project — and believe the project is affordable due to the water sales tax put in place in 1992 to fund water projects.