1-Cent Sales Tax for Water System Improvements

On September 4, 2012, the City Council approved a resolution to place a ballot question on the November ballot for citizens to vote whether to impose a new 1% sales tax to help pay for water system improvements (e.g. new raw water line to El Dorado, Walnut River diversion project, developing new water sources, etc.). A community imformation meeting was held on August 30, 2012 to provide information and answer questions from the public about the proposed sales tax and projects. On November 6, 2012, Augusta's citizens voted to approve the 1% sales tax by about a 2:1 margin. The new sales tax will take effect in April 2013, but the City will not receive its first distribution from the new sales tax revenue until June 2013.
 
Frequently asked questions from the public (with answers) are posted below. If you have a question not on the list below, please click here to submit your question. Answers will be posted as soon as we can get to them.
 
Related Documents...
 
Water Supply Study 2012 , 2.32 MB* This is a large file. Please allow up to a minute to load.
 
Community Information Meeting Presentation , 200 kB
 
Sales Tax Resolution and Exhibits - Ballot Question , 200 kB

 FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:

Why can't we just buy more water from El Dorado?

The problem is not our ability to buy more water from El Dorado. The problem is the City of Augusta's ability to transmit the raw water from El Dorado Lake to the Augusta Water Treatment Plant. The City of Augusta gets raw water from El Dorado Lake by pumping it down a roughly 12 mile stretch of steel pipeline that was constructed nearly 60 years ago. Because of the age and condition of that pipeline, the City cannot pump more than about 2.5 million gallons of water per day without placing that line at risk of rupturing under the water pressure. Unfortunately, our summertime peak usage is between 3.5 and 4.0 million gallons per day, which means that Augusta currently has to rely on the Augusta City Lake and Santa Fe Lake as backup sources in order to meet the demand of our customers. When these other two lakes are full, meeting this demand is not a problem. However, the drought conditions over the past two years have caused these two backup sources to practically dry up.

Who owns the raw water line between El Dorado and Mulvane?

The City of Augusta owns the entire 30 plus miles stretch of the raw water pipeline that extends from El Dorado all of the way to the City of Mulvane. The portion between El Dorado and the Augusta Water Treatment Plant is referred to as the El Dorado raw water pipeline. The portion between Augusta's Water Treatment Plant and Mulvane is referred to as the Mulvane Line.
 
The Google map below shows the existing pipeline and proposed route for the new pipeline.
 

If we need water so bad, why did the City drain the Augusta City Lake?

The Kansas Division of Water Resources (DWR) designated the spillway at the Augusta City Lake as a "high hazard" structure because it was deemed to have an inadequate capacity to handle the "Probable Maximum Precipitation" (PMP) event. In other words, because of the inadequate spillway capacity, the dam could be overtopped during a signficant rain event, potentially causing a breach that could result in damage and/or loss of life downstream if the dam were to fail. The City was mandated by DWR to address the spillway capacity problem.

The City researched a variety of options to accomplish the project and satisfy DWR. One of the options considered was to widen the spillway by several hundred feet, but this essentially would have wiped out the northern half of Garvin Park (including the ball fields). Another option was to lower the spillway by 3 or 4 feet, but our engineers estimated this would have significantly lowered the water storage capacity of the lake by as much as 50%. The City ultimately elected to construct a labyrinth weir instead because it added the necessary spillway capacity without reducing water storage capacity or significantly expanding the footprint of the existing spillway.
 
As for repairs to the dam structure, the City was presented with a couple of alternatives. The City could have essentially abandoned the concrete on the face of the dam in place and added tons of dirt to the backside of the dam to shore up the structure. In this case, the new footprint of the dam would have covered the road on the east side of Garvin Park, thus impeding automobile access to the baseball fields and eliminating the loop around the park. The other alternative was to repair the face of the dam itself either by removing and replacing the concrete, adding ripwrap, or by constructing an earthen wave berm. The wave berm was determined to be less expensive and easier to maintain in the long run. Making repairs to the dam face required that the lake either be drained or that the water be held back with a temporary coffer dam. The temporary dam option would have added over $1 million to the cost of the project. Because of the expense and the limited amount of water left in the lake already because of the drought conditions, the City chose to drain the remaining water out of the lake.

Why is a sales tax being used to fund water system improvements?

The City completed a water supply study in early 2012 that recommended constructing a new raw water pipeline to El Dorado in order to get the amount of water required to meet our customers current and future demands. The estimated cost of this project is $16-20 million. The City's financial advisors estimated that a $16 million project financed over 30 years would require an annual debt service payment of $1.1 million. To generate this amount of revenue the City has three primary revenue sources to draw upon: property taxes, water fees, and sales tax.
 
In order to generate $1.1 million annually, property taxes would have to increase over 20 mills, or 50%! This would place an incredible burden on property owners in our community. Another option would be to increase water fees, but the average customer would have to pay an additional $20-30 per month to generate the revenue needed to cover the debt service payment. In contrast with the first two revenue sources, a sales tax spreads the expense out over a wider base because anyone that makes a purchase in the City would be helping to pay for the improvement. Historically, the City's existing 1-cent sales tax has generated about $850,000 to $1 million annually.

Will you take bids for the El Dorado Water Line Project?

Yes, the City will take bids for this project as is standard for major construction projects of this magnitude.

What portion of total water usage does Mulvane account for?

On average, the City of Mulvane accounts for about 25% of our total water usage.  This amount has increased over the past year with the construction of the new casino.

Will Mulvane participate in the costs of replacing the water pipeline to El Dorado?

The existing wholesale water contract with the City of Mulvane does not require that Mulvane participate in the costs to repair or replace the line to El Dorado. However, the City of Mulvane has expressed an interest in partnering with the City of Augusta going forward so that the two communities share in the costs of the water infrastructure. The nature of that partnership, if one is to be formed, has not yet been determined. One idea under consideration is for the two communities to form a wholesale water district. Under this arrangement, the district would own the water infrastructure and the costs for maintaining the system would be shared by the water customers in both communities. The two cities have received grant funding through the State of Kansas to perform a feasibility study to see if a wholesale water district is a viable option.

Is Mulvane building a new water plant and bringing more wells online?

Mulvane recently approved the building of a new reverse osmosis water treatment plant. Mulvane has brought a number of wells on line to supplement their water usage.

What is the capacity of the water treatment plant and can it accomodate the increase in flow from a new pipeline?

Augusta's water treatment plant has a capacity to treat about 5.7 million gallons per day (5.7 MGD). Assuming there are no restrictions upstream in the system at the pump station or other portions of the pipeline between El Dorado Lake and the pump station, a 24" HDPE line (as proposed) has the capacity to carry about 10.6 MGD. The short answer, therefore, is that the water treatment plant does not currently have the capacity to treat the maximum amount of water that the new pipeline could carry.
 
The thorough answer to this question, however, is that Augusta's current peak demand is in the 4 to 4.25 MGD range, which is below the plant's treatment capacity by about 25%. The water treatment plant would not have to be upgraded until customer demand actually requires it.

What is the timeline for completing the proposed new water pipeline to El Dorado?

The new pipeline to El Dorado is estimated to take about three (3) years to complete. The City must first have a revenue source in place before debt can be issued to finance the project. Design Engineering must then be completed to finalize the route so that the City can begin the process of acquiring right-of-way in areas where it may be necessary. Construction is of the 12 plus mile long pipeline may take upwards of a year to complete.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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