City Repairs Month-Long Leak In Riverside Neighborhood

By: Lily Wu - Email
By: Lily Wu - Email

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UPDATE: Tuesday, August 29, 2012

City crews are repairing a water leak in a Riverside neighborhood weeks after residents reported the problem.

Jana Oelkers told KAKE news on Tuesday she noticed the leak on Nims St. about a month ago. She said she contacted the city about problem, but repairs had still not been made.

Oelkers said she was billed $300 recently for the leak. She questioned a proposal about raising water rates while crews struggled to fix the leak.

Public works employees were in the area Wednesday morning to make repairs.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

As Wichita residents face a possible water and sewer rate increase, there are 33 leaks in the water system that have not been fixed.

One of those leaks is found outside a home in Riverside.

Jana Oelkers found the water leak more than a month ago. She called in the problem but has not seen it fixed.

"It does make me angry that this is a lot of money being wasted. The bottom line is me and every other consumer in Wichita, who uses city water, is going to pay for this," said Oelkers.

KAKE News contacted the director for Wichita Public Works and Utilities, Alan King, and was told that they prioritize repairs. High priorities are assigned to problems that damage the road. They said that if they hired enough staff, they would have to drive costs up. King said Oelker's problem will eventually be fixed.

The city's response was not satisfactory for Oelkers who received a water bill of nearly $300.

"I do everything I can to be responsible with my water, that's within my control. I feel like this is within their control but they're not doing anything about it," she said.

The City Council will likely pass water and sewer rate increases over the next decade. Those increases will help pay for a majority of infrastructure improvements and repairs.

"We're looking at protecting that investment, reinvesting money into keeping that system working the way it should be, and so that it's reliable. The other thing we're doing is looking to the future," said King.

In the next months, water customers will have opportunities to voice their opinions at district advisory board and neighborhood association meetings. The Council will vote on the rate in November.

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Monday, August 27, 2012

Wichita residents could see a 56 percent increase in their water and sewer rates over the next decade.

City Manager Robert Layton said next year's projected increase for commercial and residential customers would average 5.8 percent for water and sewer combined. Based on the cost-of-service analysis, residential customers would pay less than the average while commercial customers would pay more than the average.

Layton said the projected increases pay for the maintenance of an aging water system that has more leaks and breaks, and the Aquifer Storage and Recovery Project that aims to secure future water sources.

The ASR helps to address a problem in the next decade where estimated demand for water would exceed the capacity of the current water supply.

"We need to pay in the front end so that our children and our grandchildren have predictable water supply. Unfortunately, that's expensive and it does lead to some of the increases that we're looking at," said Layton.

Rate increases require approval from the City Council, and residents will have the chance to question their plans. The Council is expected to have next year's rate increase determined in November.

To learn more about the Aquifer Storage and Recovery Project, click here.

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