A document created in March 2013 — at the time the city warned that its major water source might soon go dry — touts an expensive investment that is part of a “plan to ensure that Wichita has the water it needs through the year 2050 and beyond.”
The project boasted of is the City of Wichita Aquifer Storage and Recovery Program. Its cost, so far for Phases I and II, is $247 million. Two more phases are contemplated.
Despite this investment, and despite the plan’s boasts, Wichitans have been threatened with huge fines for excessive water usage. The Wichita City Council is forcing citizens to spend up to $1 million so that other people may install low-water usage appliances, and city decorative fountains were dry until this week in an effort to save water.
Overall, the city’s strategy is to force austerity and huge expense on those who live here.
We can’t plan rainfall and drought year-by-year. We do know, however, that over long periods of time there will be both dry and wet years, and we need to have plans in place for both. Reading the document Wichita Area Future Water Supply: A Model Program for Other Municipalities, published this spring, one might be led to believe that everything is fine, water-wise: “In 1993 the Wichita City Council adopted an Integrated Local Water Supply Plan that identified cost effective water resources that would be adequate to meet Wichita’s water supply needs through the year 2050.”
This squares with what former mayor Bob Knight recently told the Wichita Pachyderm Club, that when he was in office, Wichita had sufficient water for the next 50 years.
What went wrong with this plan? Let’s try to get an answer to this question.