WEBB CITY, Mo. — Webb City officials have been discussing ways to upgrade and maintain the town's water supply system because of the rising cost in water resale rates.

For several years, Webb City has contracted with Missouri American Water Co. to provide water to a portion of its customers while supplying the remaining customers through the town's own water system. Webb City has seven water wells, which supply water to a majority of the town's 5,000 meters.

Carl Francis, city administrator, said the city budgets approximately $400,000 annually to buy water from Missouri American and is looking to cut down on those costs by expanding its own water services.

“We’ve been a customer of Missouri American and noticed over the years that the cost (to resell water) has increased and continues to increase,” Francis said. “About two years ago, the Missouri American rates nearly doubled. Ever since then, we’ve really been exploring the idea of increasing the gallons per minute from our own wells.”

Francis said it’s cheaper for the city to drill a well, produce its own water and operate its own pumps rather than having to purchase it from another supplier. Adding an extra water well has been suggested, and the city has been researching the idea, with about $700,000 budgeted for the project.

A consultant from an engineering company was hired to conduct a hydrology study and has recommended a location on the north side of town for another well.

“We’re now negotiating with a property owner to buy 1 acre of land, and we will have the engineering proposal coming to City Council, probably in the next meeting, to have them approved for engineering services to design the new well and the connection to the main system,” Francis said.

The city also plans on lowering a couple of its water wells and installing a higher horsepower motor to increase efficiency and output. The deepening of the wells will cost roughly $100,000. The goal is to have the projects ready in preparation for the summer.

“We saw about a 100-gallon-per-minute increase in the well that we dropped last year and put a bigger motor on, so we’re hoping to see that same increase in the two wells that we work on this year,” Francis said. “Once we get to summertime, we’re hoping to be able to keep our costs down for purchased water and continue to improve our well capabilities.”

As the city continues to grow, officials are aiming to become more self-sufficient with its water production. Francis said Webb City's last documented population is a little over 11,000 and the city is projected to approach 15,000 people in the 2020 census.

“The whole city is growing rapidly, and we need to keep up,” he said. “It all adds up over time. I don’t want to be in a situation where we don’t have a water supply system, and we’re reliant on purchasing our water. That’s not where we want to end up.”

State involvement

Carl Francis, city administrator, said the town will be collaborating with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources on its water projects. The department will have to issue the city permits in order to begin construction. Location and design plans will have to be submitted to the department for approval before the city can move forward.

News reporter

Kimberly Barker is a news reporter for The Globe who covers Northeast Oklahoma, Southeast Kansas, as well as Carl Junction and Webb City.