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Commissioners to discuss alleyway draining ordinance

By NICK BUDD
Hays Post

At Thursday’s Hays City Commission work session, commissioners will discuss an amendment to the city’s code of ordinances that would impose a fine on residents who drain pools and hot tubs into alleys. Commissioner Ron Mellick brought up the idea earlier in June, and city staff will present the proposed amendments to commissioners at the work session.

“My concern is that when water is drained, it is causing ruts, sinking — and it ticks off neighbors,” Mellick said at a recent meeting. “We’ve spent a lot of money trying to upgrade the alleys. … When Public Works tries to work over these alleys, some of them are better than others and some of them have a steep slope, which makes it hard to keep the rock in there that public works puts in there, and I’d like to see us have an ordinance along with a fine of around $200 to help cover our costs to go out and repair them.”

At the June 5 work session, when Mellick offered the alternative of draining the pools into the gutter system, some commissioners voiced concerned such drainage could lead residents to violate the current water restrcitions. Currently, the city does not allow outdoor watering between the hours of 10 a.m. and 9 p.m.

“The current ordinance is written for the outdoor usage of water, for example, the sprinkling, car washing and stuff like that,” City Manager Toby Dougherty said. “I checked with Police Chief Don Scheibler, and they have never enforced people draining pools. If they see water coming down, they follow it back to the source.”

“I want to make it clear that I’m objecting to that,” Commissioner Kent Steward said. “That’s clearly a use of outside water from the city system. I’m OK with rewriting the ordinance, but I hate just looking the other way. It’s clearly against the law, and we’re just going to say ‘We don’t enforce that’? That is a terrible way to run a city.”

Commissioner Eber Phelps offered the solution of simply fining the offenders the cost of repairing the alleyway.

The proposed ordinance that will be presented to commissioners states: “It is unlawful for any person to allow substantial amounts of water to escape and/or drain from a swimming pool or hot tub on private property onto unpaved alleys or rights of way; provided that the term ‘substantial’ shall mean an amount sufficient to cause a discernible flow of water reaching the street, gutter or other drainage system or the discernible saturation of the unpaved alley or right-of-way.”

The amount of the fine has not been decided. The updated ordinance also would state water users are “expressly permited to allow substantial amount of water to drain from swimming pools or hot tubs … into storm sewers, sanitary sewers and impervious curb frontages along their property.”

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  • alex mark

    I think a special use tax or just a tax on the quantity of water in an individual outdoor pool would be fair. Any pool under 500 gals not being included..

    • Taxed enough

      Don’t we already pay enough for our water???? They increased our rates one year because we weren’t using our normal quantity, in other words, we were conserving too much and they were losing money. Then they tacked on this water fee for them to explore new water options. Then they bought the R-9 ranch at a huge cost to our pocketbook. They also have increased rates if we go over a minimal amount of use, so filling a pool or hot tub may mean you already are paying a lot extra for that water. And the talk of this pool water damaging the alley makes me wonder if it’s really a growing concern or just one person mad at a neighbor. We can have a 2.5″ downpour of rain all over town and the alley’s seem fine. A person drains a backyard pool and all of a sudden that limited amount of water totally messes up an alley?

      • passin_threw

        You have to realize 2.5″ of rain is over the entire alley, the garden hose used to drain the pool is an inch of the area so in effect that area if not moved and watched would be equivalent to thousands of inches of rain on a larger pool. Take that into account and the fact the city trash men get on the same kind of power trip that police do and need to flex their muscles at times to make their job a little more glorious

  • blind r

    Foolish! How does a hot tub normally drained through a garden hose, ranging from 3-500 gallons do any damage? When in doubt put more ordinances in place.

    That and “some commissioners voiced concerned such drainage could lead residents
    to violate the current water restrcitions. Currently, the city does not
    allow outdoor watering between the hours of 10 a.m. and 9 p.m.”

    So accordingly, one can only work on their hot tub during the night time (or early morning). That makes a lot of sense??? You can easily disperse water where it will do no damage. If you are using a large volume pump and a large capacity pool I can see it. But not a hot tub and a garden hose.

    Then some of the more foolish thoughts are a “use tax” – geez. As some want a use tax then already have an exception.