Did you know that Salina has been growing at a rate of about 22% for the last 3 years and currently the water is not sufficient for that much growth? Over the summer Salina ran out of water 5 times and did not have the water pressure available to fight a fire. This type of problem could leave Salina City vulnerable to liability. Also Salina City is out of compliance with the state law which mandates that a city with more that 90 water service hookups have more than one water source available.
Currently Salina only has one water source with an aging 13 miles of 50 year old pipeline. Our water works is inadequate to fill our needs. Salina City has proposed a 6.4 million dollar deal with 33% being grant money and the the other 67% a 30 year loan at 2%. These funds will pay for 6800 feet of pipe, a one million gallon water storage tank, a new chlorination building and equipment, procurement of water right, procurement of land for proposed well site, maintenance costs, converting town to radio meters and valving to keep the higher tanks full.
The question was asked, “What about developing Lost Creek’s water source? Is Lost Creek working to it’s full potential?” Jeff Albrecht, Salina’s contracted engineer, stated that right now Lost Creek water is mainly surface water and when it flows at peak less water is being used and Salina does not have the storage ability to contain that high flow. When summer months come we are at our highest usage and Lost Creek is at it’s minimum. Even if the storage was developed, the pipeline is dilapidated and at it’s full capacity. From Lost Creek a new pipeline would run about 13 miles compared to the proposed 6 miles. At a reasonable projection rate of only 2% the water in Lost Creek is not enough to meet the demands the rate of growth will require over a 20 year period.
Residential rates will go up $12 a month and commercial rates are going to increase, one commercial level going from $70 to $127 a month. These increases will be applied directly to project loan payments. The benefits greatly outweigh the costs for this project.
Another matter discussed was the Salina swimming pool. Currently the swimming pool is operating at a loss of $9,000 a year. It is a liability due to it’s dilapidated condition and the repairs are lengthy and costly.
The proposed solution is a $3 line item on the water bill to go directly towards a loan to update and maximize efficiency to the pool’s chlorination system pumps, electrical, lining, shower and bathroom facilities and increased efficiency. Also we want to increase the aesthetic and entertainment value to the pool by adding more area , a new slide and the potential for a splash pad.
Concerns from the audience were that if they didn’t use the pool why should they have to pay for it. Also, if the pool is losing money they should charge a higher usage fee so that it could pay for itself.
Comments in the positive direction stated that $3 wasn’t too much to pay for a swimming pool that increases the value. The mayor stated that if we close the pool that the county would insist that Salina participates in a $10 million pool and recreation project in Richfield. It was noted that juvenile crime and complaints decrease considerably in the summer when the pool is open.
Salina needs to be a place where people want to live, where city services are available making Salina a place of interest for future business, owners and their staff.