The City of Pratt is planning a water pipeline to the airport to replace the water well that has raising nitrate levels.

A long time nitrate problem with the water at the Pratt Regional Airport will eventually cause the city to shut down the last water well on the airport permanently.

Roy Eckert, Pratt City manager, said it would probably happen in the next three years so the city, that has authority over the water supply, is taking steps now to provide a fresh water supply to the airport.

The city will extend an existing water line from Pratt out to the airport to provide a dependable water source for businesses, Eckert said.

The nitrate problem at the airport has existed for decades and the levels continue to climb. The City has no way to decontaminate the water supply and they have to have an unpolluted water supply at the airport so extending the water line is the solution, Eckert said.

Nitrate levels are measured every month and samples are sent to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. The KDHE tests the samples and returns the results. Results are showing the nitrate levels are rising so acton is necessary.

"It has to be done and we're not waiting until the last minute," Eckert said.

The new 12 inch line will be a loop system so the water will be treated in Pratt and be the same quality available in town. The waterline is an expensive project so the city is looking at grants to help pay for the project. Hopefully, the project can get started sometime in 2018. The city is currently looking at numbers for the project.

The line has to be completed before the airport water well nitrate levels get too high. So the city is pushing ahead with the project to get it done well before it becomes necessary to shut down the airport water well.

"We want to make sure everyone has good water," Eckert said. "We have to have it."

The water line has to meet Kansas Department of Health and Environment regulations. They have been very helpful with this project, Eckert said.

The airport was originally the Pratt Army Air Field and it was the first training base in the world for B-29 bomber pilots and crews. Other B-29 fields soon followed in Kansas but Pratt was the first.

The airfield was in operation from 1943 to 1946. The Army gave the airport to the City of Pratt in 1948.

While a new water supply will solve a problem at the airport, old waterlines in Pratt will continue to be an issue for the city water department.

Several city waterline repairs have been needed in the last few months. At one point there were about a dozen places around Pratt were barricades were in streets where waterline repairs were being done.

The City Water Department is well aware of the problem and has done a good job of mapping the problem areas. They have also gotten good at making repairs and have gotten it down to a science.

The water line suffers about the same number of leaks every year and the water department has gotten very good at repairing lines and getting the streets open in a timely manner. Some of the city water lines are very old and it would be very expensive to entirely replace them so repairs will continue.

It's important to keep records of where water line breaks occur. When the city applies for bonds, accurate records help reduce the bond rates and give the city a better bond rating, Eckert said.

Because repairs have to be made in the streets, barricades are placed on all four sides of a repair area. Driver's need to be alert to these work areas and take care when maneuvering around them.