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Hays commissioners talk water strategy


Hays city commissioners voted 5-0 at Thursday's meeting to approve a cost-sharing arrangement with the Kansas Water Office and the Corps of Engineers for a lowhead dam study in the Smoky wellfield.

Initially, the study was going to include the city of Russell, which later opted not to participate. The scope of the study then was revised by Burns and McDonnell to provide for more data collection and analysis.

Total cost of the study will be $80,000, with the Corps of Engineers paying $40,000 and the Kansas Water Office and city of Hays each paying $20,000.

During commissioner comments, Henry Schwaller IV raised the topic of the city of Russell's recent discussions regarding no longer partnering with the city of Hays on the Public Wholesale Water Supply District No. 15.

"I was very saddened to see the meeting," Schwaller said. "It is true that difficult times can either bring people together or can certainly split them up.

"It seems very clear that the Russell City Council does not trust us and does not want to be a partner and believes that what we have done has not been very helpful to them."

He asked for advisement from City Manager Toby Dougherty and City Attorney John Bird about how the city of Hays would proceed with removing itself from the Public Wholesale Water Supply District No. 15.

"It's obvious the Russell City Council has lost all faith in the city of Hays," Dougherty said. "And specifically, they don't trust us.

"So if the commission chose to accept the offer to dissolve the partnership, I think the water district can probably be dissolved unilaterally by removing the board members, representatives from Hays."

Bird agreed and said city staff would bring back information to the commission on a withdrawal procedure.