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Hays contractors discuss water-saving changes

1/28/2014

By MATTHEW KENWRIGHT

By MATTHEW KENWRIGHT

mkenwright@dailynews.net

The Building and Trades Board met Monday to discuss water conservation efforts and the shortage that might confront Hays in the future.

Area contractors attended the meeting and debated the effectiveness of the changes. The proposed rules would affect what type of plumbing fixtures and fittings would be allowed within the city's jurisdiction. Anyone undertaking a new project also would have to submit plumbing fixtures plans, including manufacturer information and maximum flow rates, to the city for review prior to construction.

The board voted to recommend the changes to the Hays City Commission, but it decided to research regulations concerned with insulating hot water pipes.

The possible changes include limiting shower heads to 2 gallons per minute, residential kitchen faucets to 1.8 gallons per minute, residential bathroom faucets to 1.5 gallons per minute, other bathroom faucets to 0.5 gallons per minute and toilets to 1.28 gallons per flush.

Details on permanently installed irrigation systems would be part of a landscaping plan required for submission to city staff for new construction.

Changes also would include requiring narrow- or irregular-shaped landscape areas smaller than than 12 feet to be irrigated only by low-flow emitters.

The maximum volume of water contained in the hot water distribution pipe between the water heater and any fixture would not exceed 64 ounces.

The possible changes would be part of a larger effort to achieve water sustainability in Hays.

Water cannot be released from Cedar Bluff to ease the shortage because its levels were down to 50 acre-feet in December, compared to 1,247 acre-feet in January 2013.

Hays has struggled with water in the past, and the city's population is significantly larger than it was during prior droughts. The city's conservation efforts in the early 1990s targeted 5-gallon flush toilets to reduce water use, but many such appliances today are efficient.  

The city's campaign to save water has included such tactics as increasing water rates for outdoor use, replacing city-owned fixtures, allocating $145,000 for rebates to encourage installing more efficient toilets and urinals and hiring a water conservation specialist.

The Hays City Commission will consider the rule changes at a meeting in March.