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Kurt Bookout: Water available in El Dorado

  • Published Thursday, March 6, 2014, at 12 a.m.

Regarding “City considers wastewater for drinking water” (Feb. 20 Eagle) and “Aquifer role uncertain in city’s water supply plans” (Feb. 23 Eagle): The city of El Dorado’s position was stated by Wichita city staff, but we find it somewhat disconcerting that El Dorado officials were not contacted for information by The Eagle or Wichita staff for either of these articles regarding the sale of water to Wichita.

Furthermore, El Dorado has not had any discussions with the city of Wichita in almost seven months – not so much as a phone call asking for the price of untreated water from El Dorado Lake. Our last conversation about water was August of last year.

In that meeting with Wichita staff, El Dorado City Manager Herb Llewellyn made several points. One was that we have lots of water to sell. Another was that the discussion of what Wichita wants and what we can deliver is a continuum – from the city of Wichita building a pipe to El Dorado Lake and buying raw water, to El Dorado selling 40 million gallons per day of finished drinking water delivered to the pump station at 21st and Webb for $5 to $6 per thousand gallons.

We have not yet been asked to sell any water, and therefore we haven’t refined estimates of what the water would cost. But El Dorado is not going to artificially inflate the cost of water to our neighbors to the west. The cost of delivering water from El Dorado Lake to Wichita will be a direct reflection of the cost to deliver that water.

El Dorado Lake is the newest large reservoir in Kansas. Because the watershed is mostly tallgrass prairie, it is also one of the few lakes in Kansas to be unaffected by the toxic blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) that have plagued reservoirs with watersheds dominated by cropland. The city of El Dorado is in agreement with the Kansas Water Office that El Dorado Lake is an important regional water supply, and we are willing to share this resource with those who need it.

Great quality and quantity are available to Wichita at about the same distance as Wichita’s current supply, Cheney Reservoir, and at a fair price.

Kurt Bookout is director of public utilities for the city of El Dorado.

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