City Commision discusses water conservation efforts

BY ALICIA FEYERHERM

During Thursday’s Hays City Commission meeting, Water Conservation Specialist Holly Dickman presented on water conservation programs for 2023. 

Dickman said the Hays area is currently in an extreme drought and the seasonal drought outlook predicts the drought will persist until the end of May. 

“I hope this is incorrect,” Dickman said. “I hope that we get some storms this spring and we will get some rainfall, but unfortunately it looks like we are predicted to persist with our drought.”

According to the Kansas Ag Research Center in Hays, 2022 was a below average year for rainfall with only 16.34 inches of rain compared to the 26.51 inches of rain in 2021. 

In 2022, 202 toilets were replaced using the toilet rebate program for more water-efficient toilets. This saved about 1,458 gallons of water. 

Commissioner Sandy Jacobs said some people oppose the .8 gallon per flush toilets. 

“People are disappointingly making conscious decisions not to get the .8 flush,” Jacobs said. “That is a real disappointment.” 

The washing machine rebate had 77 participants this year, saving about 639,901 gallons of water. There was a total of nine turf conversions in 2022.

Interest in the Showerhead Program increase by almost 600%, with 180showerheads distributed, saving about 1,182,600 gallons of water.

Two new rebate programs will begin this year. One rebate offers up to $100 to purchase WaterSense Smart Irrigation controllers. The second rebate offers up to $100 for the purchase of rain-sensor shutoffs for automatic irrigation systems. 

Individuals 13 and up can also become 4-H water ambassadors. As an ambassador, they learn more about water conservation and help educate the community at events. This program received the Kansas Association for Conservation and Environment Education’s award for Excellence in April of 2022.

Dickman also promotes water conservation through various mediums including poster contests, sponsored Larks games, tabling events and traditional radio and TV ads. In this coming year, Dickman hopes to prioritize and expand on social media usage. 

The commissioners all thanked Dickman for her continued dedication to water conservation.

“We’d be hard pressed to find someone that does a better awareness program than you do, Holly” Jacobs said. “Year over year, it just gets better and better.”

Other items addressed at the meeting include:

  • Awarding of a bid to Morgan Brothers Construction for Fort Hays Municipal Golf Cart Paths
  • Accepting final plats for Airflyte Acres 2nd Addition and Heritage Heights Additions
  • Rezoning request from Agriculture District to Residential Suburban District on Airflyte Acres 2nd Addition and proposed Heritage Heights additions

The next commission meeting will be March 9. 

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