If there is one thing Augusta residents have learned how to do, it is conserve water.
Two years of drought combined with draining the city lake due to work on the dam and spillway have forced Augusta water customers to limit water usage for nonessential purposes.
Those abilities were on display again in December as the total water used was once again below 2011 levels.
The total used in December was about a half million gallons less than December of 2011 – 46.54 million compared to 47 million the prior year.
Augusta residents were down more than that because Mulvane used about a million gallons more in 2012 than they did in 2011 – 13.735 million compared to 12.730 million in 2011. The new casino and the resulting development in the area are the most likely reasons for the increase use in Mulvane during the non-peak water usage month.
However, thanks to conservation efforts of their own and bringing previously unused water wells back online, Mulvane was able to remain under the contractually allowed 200 million gallons of water a year. Augusta's largest retail water customer used 188.5 million gallons of water in 2012.
In July, City Attorney David All and City Manager Bill Keefer were instructed by the Augusta City Council to attempt to renegotiate the contract for water sales between the two entities.
There has been no public update regarding those negotiations although a water system work session is scheduled for later this month in Augusta.
Complicating the negotiations are the approval of a one-cent sales tax on Nov. 6, 2012 by Augusta residents to help fund a new and larger water line from Augusta to El Dorado and Mulvane's ability to use well water to supplement the supply to their system.