It was a wet spring in Hays and that’s generally meant less water use by city water customers.
Even though water revenues for the city were down by 22 percent in April, as reported by Hays Finance Director Kim Rupp, city commissioners are “OK” with that.
Vice-Mayor Shaun Musil gave “kudos to the community” for using less water during the commission’s June 27 meeting.
During that meeting, Rupp reported a 17 percent increase in water consumption for May, which translates into an increase of 14.5 percent in water revenues and a 79 percent increase in water conservation revenues.
Still, the year-to-date total water consumption at the end of May was down 4 percent with revenue up 2.5 percent.
The consumption increase in May “kind of surprised” Commissioner Eber Phelps, who noted the cool temperatures and recent rains.
Mayor Henry Schwaller said he thought the information “got a little confused in public.”
“We’re happy when people don’t use water,” Schwaller said with a smile. “So when we heard last month that usage and water revenue were down, none of us were concerned. We’re happy when people conserve.
“We [were] a little shocked when it [went] up, but if people don’t use it, we’re OK with that.”
“I had many people saying we were complaining about it [less water consumption],” Musil said. “It’s actually just the opposite. We’re all very excited when it’s down because people aren’t using it.”
Phelps, who has twice previously served as a city commissioner, added that “all our efforts for years now have been directed for decreased water usage or we wouldn’t have given away 10,000 low-flow showerheads.”
City Manager Toby Dougherty said the report was “simply a statement of fact by the finance director and we’re not complaining either.”
Rupp pointed out to commissioners the May receipts may include part of April.
“We bill each week, so we have four cycles. So we might be catching a little of the tail end of April,” explained Rupp.
The water use average for Hays residential and business customers is a minimum of 500 cubic feet (c.f.) per month and is billed at the Base Tier rate.
As water consumption increases, so does the rate.
Usage exceeding the average by up to 1,000 c.f. is billed at the Conservation Tier 1 rate. Exceeding 1,000 c.f. usage in one month moves customers to the higher Conservation Tier 2 rate. If a customer exceeds 1,000 c.f. during official Water Warning or Water Emergency periods, the rate is even higher.
The city of Hays is the only municipality in Kansas with a population greater than 15,000 that is not located near a sustainable source of water. Water conservation programs were started in the early 1990s.