Pratt Water Resources
Like many Kansas municipalities, the future of Pratt's sustainable and growth opportunities are dependent on several major criteria. For the purpose of this article we will focus on water.
The City finds itself in a challenging position due to the Kansas Water Resources plans to decrease the future allocation based on past usage. With a recent extension until 2023, the City has some time to increase water usage but can do so only in what is called a "a beneficial and non-wasteful manner." That definition is open to interpretation based on water availability, quality, irrigation use, manufacturing opportunities (current and/or future opportunities) and population needs which varies from city to city, to name only a few of the numerous variables.
The City of Pratt has done an exceptional job in conserving our water usage, which is the common sense approach, yet that practice may end up in decreasing our future water allocations. Pratt City Water Superintendent Kelvin Clay, has 32 years of water experience in addition to a Class IV Water Management and Treatment Certification and has a Conservation Plan, Water Emergency Plan, and Drought Plan in place for Pratt. He and the City Staff have been working directly with the District Water Resources Office in Stafford regarding our future water needs. With their assistance and advice, we are anticipating increasing usage of our water allocations in the near future.
In 2008, Clay noted the City of Pratt received the Achievement Development Award for having our management and financial reports completed and up to date. That practice is still being used.
Clay goes on to state: 'We need to have the Kansas Division of Water Resources take into consideration our current contract with the ethanol plant and that they are using only 50% of their requested water due to conservation practices; however, they could need more in the future'. Also, the needs of the Pratt power plant steam generator comes into play if it were required to be used in the long-term for electrical generation and could use 350 acre feet of water per year, according to Clay.
These are the future contracted and practical uses we have to take into consideration and that does not take into account potential future industrial and business usage.
Pratt City Manager Roy Eckert, serves on the State Regional Water Resource Advisory Board and reaffirms that our water allocations are vital and we are doing everything the State is advising. The recent approval of a $1.5 million loan and a partial forgiveness of debt from the State of Kansas to install a new water line to the Pratt Airport confirms that the City is compliant and is submitting accurate information to the State. He notes that another date extension from the State may be possible if we should have a potential industry or business that would require substantial water resources for operations.
There are numerous discussions across the State of Kansas dealing with water concerns. Legislation stating that water resources must be based on "increasing beneficial usage" is difficult at this time. To perfect Pratt's current water rights, the City has been told that we need to use more water in order to avoid losing the amount of water rights we currently have. Common sense would dictate that water conservation would secure water rights due to good stewardship. To have to use more water to keep the water rights we have can lead to wasting water, which serves no purpose and could possibly lower or deplete local water tables.
Various ideas for using more water is difficult. The City of Pratt cannot pump well water directly into the river due to the possible effects on the downstream fish hatchery and aquatic life by chlorinated water and nitrate levels. It is also questionable if city water may be used for irrigation due to the automated chlorination at the wells. Eckert notes that the City of Pratt will continue to work in partnership with the Regional Division of Water Resources, noting that they have always been extremely cooperative and helpful with the City of Pratt and we value their expertise and cooperation.