Wichita officials will start a project this fall to examine the city’s sewage and water infrastructure and ways to optimize it, City Council member Janet Miller said Thursday.
The project is intended to identify risks and strengths in the city’s utility system by bringing in outside engineering and financial experts while a rate increase looms in the next five to seven years, Miller said during a news conference at City Hall. The city sent out a request for proposals in May, and seven companies responded.
“The project will include making sure our infrastructure upgrades are the best investments we can make with the rate payers’ dollars,” she said. “We have an obligation to make sure that those projects are the most efficient.”
The first phase of the project will take one year, Miller said. Experts will create a plan to prioritize projects, look at current city staff – if there’s enough and what skill sets are required – and find new ways to earn a revenue stream that will either reduce rates or keep them the same for customers.
City officials expect to select a firm later this month and negotiate a contract in September or October.
After phase one is finished, the city will examine whether phase two – which will implement the plans developed in phase one – will also be completed.
The project is not an effort to outsource any of the city’s jobs, Miller said.
“The city is not planning to sell or privatize the water and sewer utilities,” she said. “The City Council feel that’s very important, that water and sewage operations be owned and operated by the city itself.”
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