Operations Manager Larry Smith (left), pictured with operator Joshua Sullivan, oversaw construction of a new Rural Water District No. 3 pump station.
MULVANE – Sedgwick County Rural Water District No. 3 supplies water to over 2,100 residences in Sedgwick, Sumner, Butler and Cowley counties, including about 1,100 Derby residents.
The RWD was first conceived in 1967-68 by farmers hauling water for livestock and domestic use. It was incorporated in 1972 with 624 customers.
When Larry Smith started as a part-time inspector in 1984, RWD No. 3 received water from Wichita, and was restricted by Wichita to only supply customers who had 10 acres or more of land.
“People would buy land in the country and build homes and then drill wells for water, but not find any,” he said. “People were asking us to supply water, and we were restricted from doing it.”
Because of the acreage restriction, RWD No. 3 changed to Augusta as a supplier in 1991. The district signed up enough customers to add another 100 miles of pipeline and a pump station on 79th Street South.
A 100-degree day that left the water tower half full led Smith (now operations manager) and the board to approach Wichita and ask them to reconsider the 10-acre restriction.
“I like to operate on a full tank,” said Smith. “That just didn’t cut it.”
RWD No. 3 went back on Wichita water in January 2011, without the 10-acre restriction.
The switch necessitated new 12-inch line along 55th Street South, so the district could tap into Wichita’s main on K-15. The pipeline cost $467,000, and a new pump station cost $871,000.
“Customer service is and has always been our top priority,” said Smith. “The district is always rated No. 1 or No. 2 in the state, based on KDHE inspections.”
The district now maintains 280 miles of pipeline, three pipe towers and a 500,000 gallon water tower. It has six full-time employees.
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