KC's busted water mains costing us millions to fix
The Kansas City Star
It’s an all-too-familiar story in this hot and dry summer in Kansas City.
A water main bursts. Water pressure drops. Road lanes are blocked. Repairs are made — eventually. And service is restored.
Then repeat, and repeat some more.
The number of busted water lines and frustrated customers have climbed this year. While the extreme weather is a factor, Kansas City also has large problems because its water mains are decades old and more prone to failure.
On Wednesday alone, the Kansas City Water Services Department was busy sending out several more warnings of low water pressure.
And on the previous day, a boil advisory had been issued for the second time in a month for the southeast part of Kansas City as well as Raytown. It was exasperating news for tens of thousands of people. Once again, officials said a power failure had affected a water pump station.
The city is in the midst of a multiyear plan to replace large numbers of aging water pipes. Water rates have been hiked significantly in recent years to help pay for this costly program, including a 12 percent increase that took effect in May.
On Aug. 7, Kansas City voters will face a ballot question asking them to approve $500 million for a separate priority — making federally mandated improvements to the sewage system. The Star has recommended a “yes” vote on the bonds. While clearly needed, it will still take millions more to fix the problems with the water mains.
Kansas Citians face this certainty: Sewer and water charges are guaranteed to go up in the coming years to upgrade important basic services for residents and businesses.