The Kansas Court of Appeals has affirmed a Riley County District Court ruling that the City of Manhattan does not have to provide USD 383 with free water as part of an arrangement that goes back to the late nineteenth century.
The affirmation was decided by Court of Appeals Judge Steve Leben based on an appeals consideration on Nov. 26.
It upheld District Judge Paul Miller’s January 2012 ruling that the city does not have to provide a free supply of water to public schools despite an 1887 arrangement between the city and E.B. and Elizabeth Purcell, a couple who deeded an area of land in Manhattan for the operation of a public water supply and stipulated that in consideration for the grant, the city would provide “in perpetuity a supply of free water to all churches and public schools.”
In his judgment, Miller wrote that a stipulation of the deed was that the land was to be used solely for a public water works system and that in the event that the city ceased to use that land for this reason, it was to revert to the heirs of the Purcells.
The original water works facility was put out of service in 1985 and demolished in 1993. The original reservoir on top of Bluemont Hill was abandoned and disconnected in 1965 when a water tower was built on land not originally belonging to the Purcells.
Judge Leben ruled that because the land is no longer being used for the purpose of a public water works system, the city is not obligated to provide the school district with a free water supply.
The civil lawsuit was originally filed by USD 383 in December 2010.