R9 Ranch: Long-term solution to water crisis set in motion

Hays Post

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.

  • marson

    65 million. keep dreaming. it’ll cost a lot more than that by the time crews start putting the pumps and pipes together. taking water from somebody else’s back yard to dump into your back yard. i’m sure the neighbors in edwards county is gonna be happy about that. do we have any cost estimate how much money it will take to maintain these pumping stations? and i’m sure edwards county and their neighboring counties are going to express their dissatisfaction with water authorities about this. they’ll tie this up in court for a long time. we don’t have the best track record when it comes to getting along with our neighbors. we like to bully. and hays will pay a lot of legal fees. historic? don’t think so.

  • other shoe

    I am willing to bet there is no 27 million in a bank account for this. The city doesn’t leave money like that laying around. It may add up to that amount since the inception of the tax, but it was probably spent as quick as it came in. Wichita and Hutchison have water problems too and they will look close at what happens up stream in the Arkansas River Basin.

    • fat chanceb69

      27 million $ says hays will never get the water rights transferred up from ark river water shed up to this watershed!

      • good luck hays

        some attorneys are gonna make a lot of money off the hays taxpayers trying though. this is gonna be held up in courts for awhile. you just don’t go walk in somebody’s back yard and say hey i’m taking some of your water up north. you’re right fat chance.

  • dumber than dumb

    pumping water up hill. makes sense.

  • Reality Check

    Let’s not let a trivial thing like water stop our Commissioners from their lofty goals of Convention Centers, pavilions, skyscrapers downtown, expansive airports, more housing, manufacturing factories, and a FSHU student population that will rival our sister city in China!

    • alexander

      Right on!

      No Moar Skyscrapers!

      No Moar Housing!