By Cliff Judy (WICHITA, Kan.)
Wichita City Manager Robert Layton will ask the City Council for a 15-percent increase in water rates after announcing "flawed financial projections" from the city's water department. Layton also cited low usage and capital projects as the reasons for the increase just two days after the city's Water Utilities Director suddenly retired.
If approved, residents will pay an average of $3.50 to $18 more a month depending on their water usage.
Bills for commercial customers utilizing 100,000 gallons a month would increase approximately $52 per month. Industrial customers using 10 million gallons a month would see a monthly increase of approximately $4,900.
Layton announced that since 2006, Wichitans have used 13 percent less water. That added up to $12 million less than the water department's projections coming in for the city.
The city needs that money to pay off debt for capital projects like the Aquifer Storage and Recovery Project. The ASR includes construction along the Little Arkansas River to treat and divert water back into the Equus Beds Aquifer to make sure it doesn't go dry. The project is designed to provide the city's water supply through 2050.