Hays City Commission will consider easing water restrictions

Hays Post

At Thursday’s Hays City Commission work session, commissioner’s received a recommendation from staff to move the city from a stage two water warning to a stage one water watch.

According to Director of Utilities Bernie Kitten, the Smoky Hill River recently received a substantial amount of rainfall, which caused the river to flow near Schoenchen for the first time in three years. The river provides water to the Smoky Hill well field, one of the main well fields for the city of Hays.

“That rain is going to help the river flow quite a bit longer. It really helped us,” Kitten said.

City Manager Toby Dougherty also mentioned that the Smoky Hill well field is the “main catalyst” for the preemptive move to a Water Warning that the city made this year. He said that, according to predictions made in May, the Smoky Hill wellfields were within a day of hitting warning status, but the rainfalls helped with the recharge significantly.

“The drought probably can’t get any worse than what we’ve had the past two summers, so we have a lot of confidence according to these predictions,” Kitten said.

The rainfall didn’t change the pumping wells in the city, but they do remain above a watch level. The Big Creek wells, which are located closer to the center of Hays, haven’t really changed that much either because they receive water directly from rainfall that goes through the city’s water depository’s. Kitten said that they require several small rainfalls in order to recharge.

“We have a long way to go with the Big Creek well field,” Dougherty said. “While the Big Creek wells are no longer as close to water watch as they were before, they still remain in the low end of normal operation, and it will take them a lot longer to recover than the Smoky Hill well fields.”

The current drought forecast released by the National Weather Service also says that the Hays area is “at a line” of possibly going out of the current drought.

Due to these factors, Kitten said staff does believe that the water warning can be removed. Commissioners are scheduled to vote on the move at next week’s regular meeting.

  • Natalie Gabel

    We have been blessed with good rains but we aren’t out of the drought yet. Will it really hurt the city of Hays to hold off on going to stage 1 until we see what the future weather brings? Please really think about this……

    • Let It Rain

      I completely agree with you Natalie. It seems that the citizens of Hays have been understanding these necessary restrictions. Why take a step back?

      • Billy Bob Wayne

        I 100% agree I hope our commissioners understand how a water aquifer recharges and replenishes. The well field need to have a constant flow to recharge. We are trying to preserve for the future. We can not be dumb and go 1 step forward and 10 steps back. We are all concerned about the irrigating out west but we need to protect and cherish what we have in our own back yards. Commissioners PLEASE keep the restrictions in place and everyone please due your part and get used to it, or till we are given the constant rainfalls we need.

  • Jeff

    Keep the current restrictions until summer is over. June was great but we have along way to go!

  • Keep the warining for the livelyhood of the people.

    We got approx 8″ of rain in June and in early May we hadn’t even got a full inch for 2014, I don’t agree with lifting the restrictions. I think it would be safe to say that we’re not much better than before the rains.

  • backhoe

    You have got to be kidding me!!! Mr. Kitten really said that the drought can’t get any worse then it has been the last few years? I truly hope some people in charge take note of this. Unbelievable!!!! Does the staff even talk to the Kansas Water Office, or KDHE, or Division of Water Resources???? Please Commissioner’s don’t take this recommendation from him, please get better information from the professionals who are charged with the job of protecting our states water.

  • Less government

    Do you people really need laws to conserve water????? The biggest users of water anyway are the ones with underground sprinklers and they just set them to go off at 2 am. The current restrictions and the reduced one proposed won’t affect them.

    • Natalie Gabel

      I agree with U on this point—but it isn’t the sprinkler system that is wrong, it is the person that controls it . It isn’t to hard to figure out that u want the roots to stress out to go deeper & become hardy ….Do I need laws personally—no, I have a deep respect for the earths resources…… but I think some people don’t understand where water comes from….—don’t argue—look at the logic. We all need to work together.

  • Chief59

    So we have one month of above average rain and we want to go back to using more water? That is flat out ignorant. Why not wait until next Spring or Summer to see what is in store for us over the coming months? Knee-jerk reactions typically cause more harm than good. Hopefully the current water restrictions stay in place, or are only changed to maybe allow watering after 8 pm, instead of 9.