The City of Pratt is working to improve water quality north of the city by connecting into the airport water system.
Pratt City Commissioners took another step forward towards hooking the airport water line in to city water to alleviate problems north of town last week at their regular meeting May 7. They approved a $324,646 contract with EBH Engineering for initial planning stages of the project.
"Once we know the route we can have our water department jump in there and help lower the cost of putting in pipe," said City Public Works Director Russ Rambatt. "We can provide drinkable, usable water to the folks who live out there and service the airport at the same time."
Costs for the entire water project north of town are estimated at 1.75 million dollars with 30 percent of that proportional to how the budget for the coming year works out and a sizable package of funding to come from the state.
Mike Youngers, EBH Engineer, attended the commission meeting and explained what services his company would provide.
"We have paperwork on file for this project since 2002," Younger said. "Funding from the state wasn't there for a long time but I guess the stars are in alignment now."
Younger said the state funding was not called a grant but rather loan forgiveness from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and more money for projects such as this became available in the past year.
"This will be a 20-year loan and you just request to use the amortization process for expenses on that account," Younger said.
Actual cost will be determined when bids from contractors come in to connect the airport water to the City of Pratt, tying in at 20th Street North where the city line turns to go towards the ethanol plant.
"Water is our most precious resource when it comes to economic development," Rambatt said. "We are being pushed into a corner by the nitrate levels there. We are at 16 parts per million. When you hit 20 you get shut down. It's time to do something about this now."
The city water project to connect to the airport area does not have anything to do with the carbon-Tet cleanup issue ongoing at the airport. City Manager Rick Eckert said all data with that situation points to the Army Corps of Engineers being responsible for clean-up of contamination of carbon-Tet from when the airport was an army base.
In other business, city commissioners:
* approved a zoning change to conditional use for property under consideration for a solar farm north east of Pratt
* discussed a financial request from the Kevin Evans family and representative John Hamm for the Rolla-Rena Skating Rink
* heard that city pool admission prices will increase this summer.