Water may be taken for granted by some, but it has become a factor as Salina pushes to grow.
Salina gets its water from the Smoky Hill River or pulls it from wells drilled into the alluvial aquifer underlying the river. There’s enough there to support more jobs and a growth of more than 15,000 people over the next 44 years, said Martha Tasker, city utilities director, and there are plans to expand the available supply.
But with memories of 2006, when the river nearly dried up, and the heat and drought conditions of 2013 still fresh in the minds of locals, second thoughts surface when Salina promoters ponder pursuit of water-intensive industry. Does the city have enough of the resource to service expansion?
“You do have to have the infrastructure,” said Don Weiser, president and CEO of the Salina Area Chamber of Commerce.
When the chamber and the fledgling Salina Community Economic Development Organization are alerted to an opportunity, he said, water needs are certainly among the considerations.
“When a company is a big water user, we have to check it out. Can we handle it? We do the same for all utilities, such as natural gas or electricity,” Weiser said. “If we can’t do it, we have to be honest and tell them (Kansas Department of Commerce) that we have to opt out.”
Read more: Salina Journal.