City drilling regulations to be reviewed

By Burk Krohe

City commissioners will discuss an ordinance Tuesday designed to regulate drilling in an effort to prevent pollution in underground sources of drinking water within the city. The work session is at City Hall and will begin at 5 p.m.

According to the Safe Drinking Water Act, each state is required to develop a “wellhead protection program” to protect groundwater from contamination. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment, Bureau of Water has developed and implemented the Kansas program. It will provide education and implementation support to those communities wanting to develop local programs. 

Since 1999, Manhattan has taken several measures to protect the quality of its source water. That year the city entered a contract with a firm from Denver to perform the water and wastewater facilities plans and cost of services study. As part of the study, the firm was required to assist the city in developing a wellhead protection program.

In 2001, a consultant to the city issued a technical memorandum outlining a program with six key components. Currently, the city has fully implemented four components. They include data collection, a monitoring program, an education program and cooperation with adjacent property owners. The last two components are zoning and permitting and land purchase.

The city is recommending a joint ordinance with Riley County and Pottawatomie County to regulate drilling activities, provide a buffer zone for proper storage and containment of hazardous materials and provide buffer zones for new city well construction in its wellfield. The joint ordinance would be necessary because not all city wells are contained in city limits or the same county.

The ordinance would require a permitting program for anyone wishing to construct a well within a designated area. It would ensure wells are designed and constructed properly to seal the aquifer from contamination. The ordinance would also limit how close to city wells entities may store hazardous materials.

Also Tuesday, commissioners will air their presentation on the sales tax, which will then be viewable on the city’s website.

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