The McPherson Board of Public Utilities recently received permits to proceed with establishing three water wells located south of McPherson and outside the McPherson Intensive Groundwater Use Control Area.

“We applied for additional water permits in 2011 in the south well field, looking to develop additional water resources because of the declining aquifer,” said Tim Maier, general manager for McPherson BPU.

Although the permits are in place, the board has not made any further decisions to move forward with the project.

“The utility is still evaluating this project. The first step in the process was to insure water would be available and now that has been answered,” Maier explained.

While the board is looking to place additional water wells, Maier stresses that there is no water crisis.

“We do not have a short term problem. The (Equus Bed) aquifer has really been declining ever since it started to be developed in the 1970s or 1980s. We won’t have any issues for at least 10 to 20 years. If you continue to deplete it when you have a problem, then you’re out of water, so we’re trying to stay ahead of that by looking to develop some additional resources outside the McPherson area,” Maier explained.

Maier said this project will take some time to dive into, due to the cost and timing.

“My hope is next year we’ll start looking at the cost for the project and fine tune that, find rate impact and will start construction in the five year range if we proceed,” he said.

Maier and the board are looking at an area with less strict water rights to provide more water to the McPherson area, as well as improve the aquifer’s recharge rate.

“More rainfall does recharge the aquifer, where we’re hoping to go has more sand over it. Here, clay tends to run off,” he said.

According to the Equus Beds groundwater management district, the city of McPherson and surrounding areas use up to 180 million gallons of water from the Equus Beds every day.

The aquifer provides many uses for the city of McPherson and surrounding areas such as municipal water usage, irrigation for agriculture, industrial and other uses as well. According to the management district, the average annual use of water from the aquifer is more than 63 billion gallons. For more information, call McPherson BPU at 620-245-2515 or visit their website at http://mcphersonpower.com.

Contact Brooke Haas by email at bhaas@mcphersonsentinel.com or follow her on Twitter @ MacSentinel.