Water consumption in the city of Hays was down 17 percent in August from the same time a year ago, according to Kim Rupp, city finance director.

The drop was expected, Rupp said, because the Hays area has had so much rain over the summer.

The decline means that total water revenue for the city is down 7.69 percent from the same time a year ago, and conservation revenue is down 49 percent from the same time a year ago, he said.

Rupp gave the report Thursday evening to the Hays City Commission during its regular meeting at City Hall, 1507 Main St.

Year to date, residential and business water consumption is flat. But total water and conservation revenue is up 5.6 percent because the city over the past few years has introduced annual rate increases ranging from 10 percent to 3 percent.

In other business, City Manager Toby Dougherty updated the commissioners on the decades-long effort to ease its water shortage by drawing groundwater from its R9 ranch in Edwards County.

The public comment period is now closed, including from the Big Bend Groundwater Management District No. 5, which manages water resources in the area of the 7,000-acre ranch.

The city has applied to the state to use the water for municipal purposes instead of its current use for crop irrigation. The application is under review now by the chief engineer for the Kansas Division of Water Resources.

Dougherty said he expects a decision by mid- or late October on whether to move the application forward. The city filed the application in June 2015, and this is the first step in the two-part process for an application of this kind under the state’s Water Transfer Act, Dougherty said.

Also in other business:

• The developers of the Hilton Garden Inn and Convention Center reimbursed the city $16,300 in legal fees for costs to set up tax increment financing and a community improvement district.

• The city received $20,000 from Sunrise Rotary for their donation to improvements at Ekey Park.

• City Commissioners approved a “release of land use” restriction agreement for CedarView Assisted Living, 2929 Sternberg Dr., to facilitate it’s sale from Plains Assisted Living L.L.C.

• Approved the appointment of Shelley Bryant, Hays, to the Hays Public Library Board.

• Approved a cereal malt beverage license for St. Catherine Catholic Church, Catharine, for the Christian Mothers/Altar Society’s Essenfest 2018 on Oct. 21, from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the old USD 489 Kennedy Middle School, 1309 Fort St., Hays.