Despite recent water restrictions, Gardner is not at capacity in their raw water allotment from Hillsdale Lake. The problem lies in plant capacity which reached 80 percent as long ago as July 2012 and was at 90 percent when restrictions were put in place this July.
According to Gardner’s Capital Improvement Plan, increasing water capacity is a priority for economic development. The project was identified in the city’s long-term schedule of capital projects – the Capital Improvement Element (CIE) – approved in late 2017.
Plans are to build a $15 million 2 MGD plant. Gardner evaluated other options including a connection with WaterOne or Gardner Lake, but adding a 2.0 capacity to Hillsdale Lake was cheaper.
At the Aug. 20 meeting Cheryl Harrison-Lee, city administrator, said water plant consultants would make a presentation at the Sept. 17 council meeting. Her response was to Randy Gregorcyk, councilman, who said water needed to be a priority for economic development and suggested Gardner needed to look to Water 7 to determine if a backup plan could be formulated. Lee Moore, councilmember, explained capacity means the ability to produce drinking water, not the source. According to the minutes, he said, “This was affected by the drought because people were using drinking water to water their lawns.”
Gonzalo Garcia, utilities director, told the council Aug. 20 that based on their previous unanimous consent, a decision would need to be made to determine if an upgrade should be for a two million gallon plant or a six million gallon water plant. Procurement process, timeframe and project cost will be based on council’s decision.
Gardner has not reached pumping capacity at Hillsdale Lake. In 2017, a nine member water cooperative, of which Gardner is one, used less than half the water allotted under a water agreement.
Of the entities involved, water treatment plants are owned by Miami 2 and Gardner. It’s not unusual for the entities with the treatment plants to resale water wholesale, Nathan Westrup, Kansas Water Office, said.
An alternative to adding another water treatment plant could be the use of interconnections – buying water wholesale – during periods of high usage, Westrup said. “Buy wholesale,” he said. Interconnections can be a drought-tolerant backup source.”
Signed in June 2012, the Hillsdale Water Area Water Cooperative (HAWC) is allowed to pump 4.2 billion in 2017, but used less than half – about 1.693 billion, according to Westrup. HAWC has nine entities, including the cities of Edgerton, Gardner; Spring Hill and Wellsville, Franklin County Rural Water District No.1, Johnson County Rural Water District No. 7, Miami County Rural Water District No. 1; Miami County Rural Water District No. 2; and Miami County Rural Water District No. 4.
Starting in the fall of 2008, SKWO representatives began meeting with area water users in Johnson, Franklin and Miami County to discuss the use of Hillsdale reservoir through a wholesale type concept. The only way to meet the water demand needs was to have the multiple applicants agree to work together.
After many meetings and negotiations between the entities and KWO, the Kansas Water Authority approved the contract on May 17, 2012. With the contract, existing agreements and applications were terminated and all quantities were rolled into one contract.