When you hear about public-private partnerships that result in bringing water to residents, you tend to think of developing nations in other regions of the world. Ellis County, Kansas, doesn't come to mind, particularly in the year 2013.
Yet that is precisely where a recent project was targeted, bringing drinkable water to homes in southern and southwest Ellis County for the first time. A $300,000 KAN-STEP Community Development Block Grant from the state made the 12-mile pipeline project feasible, but it was the hard work of a host of individuals and entities that made it possible.
Land-owners in Ellis County Rural Water District 1-C were willing to do the hard work necessary. Getting financial backing required working with Trego County Rural Water District No. 2, the Ellis County Commission and staff, Kansas Rural Water Association, Northwest Kansas Planning & Development Corporation and the Kansas Department of Commerce.
Once the procedural hurdles were cleared, there was the actual digging. The grant paid for materials, engineering and administrative assistance but not the labor needed.
So 42 volunteers got busy. The men and women involved all were motivated to get the job completed within the two years allotted timeframe. They finished it in three months. Average out the length of the pipeline amongst these motivated people, and each one dug more than 1,500 feet.
"If you think there's a way, there's a will," said Laren Leiker about the process.
Ernie Leiker said he will be able to live on the family farm because potable water now exists. His son had tried it for six years but finally moved into town.
"It's been vacant for three years, but now me and my wife are going to be moving out there," Ernie Leiker said. "I don't have to worry about the water."
We congratulate the persistence and determination of the good neighbors unwilling to accept the status quo any longer. It's too bad previous generations couldn't have been spared all those years of hauling water merely to exist in the country just a few miles outside of Hays, but future generations will be spared the task. They only will have to hear the stories.
The 42 individual volunteers definitely will be leaving this world a little better than the one they were handed. Great job.
Editorial by Patrick Lowry