The Lincoln Water System (LWS) is now updating its water facilities master plan and is seeking public input as part of the process. The master plan is updated every 10 years to help ensure a safe and adequate water supply to the City at all times. The master plan addresses water supply, treatment, distribution, operations and maintenance as well as water conservation.
The public can provide input in two ways:
"Historically, this master plan has been updated with little customer outreach or input," said Public Works and Utilities Director Miki Esposito. "While that method has always produced a reliable long-range plan for providing water to the community, it was time to seek input from LWS customers. It's important for ratepayers to better understand the water system to see how future improvements can be done in a cost-effective manner with fair, affordable rates."
Esposito said the complicated process to get water from its source to customers is about a $37 million annual enterprise when you include operating, capital and debt expenses. And she said planning for a safe, plentiful water supply is critical for the growth of the city.
To provide additional input into the process, LWS created a stakeholders committee including representatives of LWS customer classes and community interests. The committee is co-chaired by Dr. Ann Bleed, Ann Bleed and Associates, and John Leach, Plant Engineering Manager for Veyance Technologies.
"Today in Nebraska, we are faced not only with increased demands for water to grow food and produce energy, but also with a higher likelihood of intense droughts," said Bleed. "At the same time, cities like Lincoln are growing. If we are going to ensure a secure water supply for future citizens of Lincoln as well as for our other neighbors, both rural and urban, in the Lower Platte River Basin, we must work together to develop plans to manage our water supply. Only with such planning can we hope to ensure there will be sufficient water to maintain our good life in Nebraska."
"As the plant engineering manager of a large industrial facility, I am very aware of the importance of uninterrupted water service to our business," said Leach. "Our location is in an area that was experiencing water main breaks because of old infrastructure. In 2008, the City replaced water mains feeding our facility. It was an expensive LWS project, but it greatly benefitted our facility and the surrounding neighborhood by providing more reliable service."
Esposito said the City is seeing the impact of water conservation. Over the last 30 years, total per capita water use in Lincoln has decreased by over 25 percent. But, LWS is also dealing with aging infrastructure. Water mains over 100 years old are still being used today, and 60-year-old water mains also are failing due to corrosion.
"It is vital to have the funding needed to maintain these systems and ensure reliable service and high-quality water to customers," Esposito said. "As we focus on keeping rates affordable for residential, commercial and industrial customers, we also need to anticipate future costs for developing adequate water supplies, treatment technologies and infrastructure replacement."
The City of Lincoln complies with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 guidelines. Ensuring the public's access to and participating in public meetings is a priority for the City of Lincoln. In the event you are in need of a reasonable accommodation in order to attend or participate in a public meeting conducted by the City of Lincoln, please contact the Director of Equity and Diversity, Lincoln Commission on Human Rights, at 402-441-7624 as soon as possible before the scheduled meeting date in order to make your request.