By BECKY KISER
ELLIS — Ellis Water Authority Board Chairman Ron Johnson manned the “Spin the Wheel” event at Thursday night’s Ellis Water Festival. All the prizes given to attendees will help conserve water or provide information about water conservation.
Last summer, the Ellis City Council voted to ban all outdoor watering in the town, now in a “water emergency” as a result of the persistent drought.
Johnson said the Water Authority Board was created in January to help educate the community and officials about water issues and ordinances.
“We went to the Trego County Rural Water District recently and their engineers are working on a feasibility study to see if Ellis can partner with them in a search for more water,” Johnson said. “We’re waiting on a report back and then will move to the next stage.”
Ellis — like Hays, which is also looking for new water — doesn’t draw its water from the nearby Ogallala Aquifer. Both towns depend on surficial alluvial aquifers for water, and that groundwater isn’t replaced in dry years.
“We need to find another water source, and it’s going to be tough and it’s not going to be cheap,” cautioned Johnson:
According to Johnson, the average water use per day, per person in Ellis last year was a little more than 86 gallons. Today, he said, that amount has dropped to 56 gallons per day per person.
The Water Festival, held in the Ellis High School, was coordinated by a group of Fort Hays State University Leadership Studies students and sponsored by the city of Ellis, USD 388, Ellis FFA Chapter, Ellis High School and Big Creek Middle Smoky Hill River Watersheds.