The city will use the rate increases and the general obligation funds to help pay for debt already accumulated in the water department for the aquifer storage and recovery project or ASR. When water consumption starting dropping in recent years, the city never scaled back expenses with the ASR. That's what created this problem.
Interim water director Chris Carrier says from now on they'll monitor water consumption and make changes accordingly. He says it's their responsibility to make sure rate payers don't have to continue fixing these problems.
The city council also voted to continue on with phase II of the ASR since it's already under construction. Consultants said they could scale back and save $35 million a year. However the city says construction costs are pretty affordable right now, so it makes more sense to build the ASR to capacity of handling 30 million gallons per day.
Council members made their decision after receiving a consultant report. They hired consultants for $185,000 to do a review after the city discovered flaws in financial projects back in March. The city found when there was a drop in water consumption, it didn't generate enough revenue to pay for the aquifer storage recovery project.
The ASR is Wichita's multi-million dollar plan to supply water into the future. PhaseII includes a surface water treatment plant and intake center. These facilities will take water, filter it and pump it back into the Equus Beds Aquifer to recharge it.