Why is water so important in Hays?
Out of the 105 counties in Kansas, 34 counties have populations that exceed 15,000 residents (2010 census). Out of those 34 counties, 27 of them are on or east of U.S. HWY 81, a traditional dividing line between eastern and western Kansas. Of those 7 western Kansas counties, all reside on or near a major aquifer except Ellis County. Given this lack of proximity to a major surface water or aquifer source, as well as recent drought conditions persistent in the area, water conservation in Hays is as important as ever.
How much water do Hays residents use?
In 2012, the City of Hays pumped 779,128,136 gallons of water. In 1970, the City pumped 754,342,160 gallons. There are not many communities that can say they are using a comparative amount of water they used 30 years ago. This shows that the citizens of Hays are wise water users. Gallons per capita per day (GPCD) is an oft-cited statistic to show how water-wise a communities citizens are. This statistic is simply how many gallons of water each person in Hays uses per day. The residents of Hays use 104 GPCD. The citizens of Hays should be commended for both their history and future efforts to water conservation.
Where does Hays water come from?
The City of Hays currently has twelve shallow wells located twelve miles south of Hays along the Smoky Hill River. These wells average a depth of sixty feet and produce approximately 200 to 500 gallons per minute. In 2010, the City of Hays completed the Smoky Expansion Project which replaced old wells and doubled the size on the production field to ensure Hays would have needed water during drought conditions.
The City also has nine wells located within the City limits, five of which are used for emergencies when the demand for water is high. The total production of these 21 wells is approximately 5,650 gallons per minute.
There are three Chlorination Stations located at the Smoky Hill River well field. They are used to disinfect the water as it is pumped from its source to the Water Softening Plant at 1000 Vine.
In 1992, six Dakota wells were drilled. Located 3½ miles southwest of Hays, these wells were first used extensively from April 7 through July 7, 1993 at 250 gallons per minute. The Dakota water passed through an electrodialysis reversal (EDR) unit to reduce the Sodium, Fluoride and Chloride content before it entered the Plant for treatment. During this testing period, it was concluded that the EDR unit was too expensive for the City to continue this process. Since then, the Dakota wells are only pumped at 50 gallons per minute and water is sent directly to the Plant.
In 1993, four new City wells were added to our system, located just outside the northwest part of town. With the addition of these wells, the current well field total was thirty-one (31) water wells.
In 1995, the Kansas Department of Health & Environment (KDHE) installed an Air Stripper in the southeast part of Hays to remove volatile organic compounds (VOC's). This contamination was caused by petroleum products getting into the water. The City drilled 4 new wells that pump to the Air Stripper. After the water has been cleaned, it is sent to the Water Plant for treatment at a rate of 160 gallons per minute. In 1999, the PCE Packed Tower Air Stripper was added to remove tetrachloroethylene, commonly known as PCE, in the area. Two more wells were added to assist in the PCE cleanup. This brought the City's well total up to today's number of 37.
What happened to the water supply in 1991?
In 1991, Hays experienced an extreme water shortage in one its primary water sources, a well field located south of Hays on the Smoky Hill River. The crisis caught city officials and residents by surprise. Two events contributed to the crisis: 1) the city's well field along the Smoky Hill River could not meet municipal demand, and 2) the area's annual rainfall did not keep pace with resident's demand. As a result, local elected officials and residents worked together to create a series of short term and long term water conservation initiatives. These initiatives lead to, and continue to contribute to, the dramatic declines in GPCD usage referenced above.
What is the R9 Ranch?
In 1992, the City purchased the R9 Ranch, a 6,400 acre site just south of Kinsley in Edwards County. This marked the largest investment into the future of water in Hays. Plans for development and water diversion from this resource to Hays are still on-going.
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