Going over 1 1/4 miles to the Pratt Municipal Airport, the City of Pratt is one step closer to providing potable water to an area plagued by high nitrates and other contaminants.

It has taken more than 30 years, but potable water is coming to the Pratt Municipal Airport and the surrounding area north of Pratt, it just might take another year or two at most. Earlier this week Kelvin Clay, Pratt Water Department Supervisor announced that phase 1 of extending the City of Pratt water service north has been completed. On Tuesday, bid letting began and engineer Michael Younger of Evans, Bierly, Hutchinson & Associates in Pratt released specifications for phase 2 of a project that should fix the water problems that have plagued the community north of Pratt for decades.
"Currently phase 1 of the airport water situation is complete, the system in online and the walk-through inspection with Topeka went as planned last week," said Clay. "Yesterday I received a call that Topeka has moved the second part of the project to the front of the list. Getting phase 2 of the project done quicker should help us bypass a mandate set by the EPA because of lead and copper violations, high nitrate levels and the presence of carbon tetra-chloride in the area."
Clay said putting a mile and 1/4 waterline from the City of Pratt to the airport would solve several problems that have been lurking under the surface for years.
"We have only one well providing water out there right now, and if we should lose that well it would be a huge liability to the people living there and our economy," Clay said. "From my past experience, when a well goes down, it can take several weeks or even up to a month to rebuild a complete well system. If this was to happen at the airport it would have left the system without water."
Clay said a 33 percent forgiveness grant from the state is helping pay to put in the waterline from the city to the airport. Positive factors that will result from this project include the following:
1) the new waterline will provide adequate fire protection to the airport area, 2) the high nitrate problem, with numbers that continue to climb, will be eliminated, 3) the risk of carbon tetra-chloride contamination tied in to the old army airbase will no longer threaten local water supply, 4) lead and copper issues will be eliminated, 5) economic growth possibilities are already being entertained with an adequate water resources soon available becoming a major factor, and 6) by having the waterline in place it will assure Pratt's airport will always have water - the old system had no built-in redundancy for well failure.
Phase 1 of the waterline project encompassed the digging and installation of a water piping from the city limits of Pratt to the airport area.