The city of Kenai is certainly not a desert. However, city officials are in search of more sources of water, nonetheless. And the prospects appear just as bleak.
The city is looking to enter into a purchase option agreement with the owner of property near the intersection of Bridge Access and Beaver Loop roads across from Carlile Trucking. This agreement would allow drilling and exploration for a well on that land. But owner Dick Morgan said he is not eager to sell.
"I'm not trying to sell it, they're trying to buy it," he said.
Morgan said he had plans for the nearly 5.5-acre property but would not let on just what those plans were.
"I've got a big picture in mind," he said.
The Kenai Peninsula Borough assessed the site at $22,700, and city records reported a property appraisal company valued the land at $24,000. But, when the city approached Morgan about the property, he asked for $40,000.
In a request for a state grant, city public works manager Keith Kornelis said 95 percent of Kenai's population on city water is served through a single water main line from wells on the east side of town.
"During a dry season, the present single water main cannot transport enough water (due to distance, volume and friction) to maintain proper flow and pressure into the system," he said in the request.
"The last few summers, the city has had to restrict water usage and curtail fire-training exercises due to lack of water flow and pressure. This has caused a fire safety hazard."
Last spring, Kornelis said, a search on land near the Kenai Golf Course turned up an unsuitable water source.
"The well wasn't sufficient for water without treatment," he said.
City Manager Linda Snow said the city is prepared to begin negotiating a price for the property with Morgan, but she indicated that putting a monetary value on a well should come second to finding a good water source.
"If it provides sufficient water for the city, what would you pay for it?" she asked. "We are in a precarious position with regard to water. When they were talking about building a new prison, we would not have had enough water."
Kornelis requested $1.4 million in state grant money from multiple sources, including the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation and a Direct Legis-lative Grant. How much of that would go to exploration of the Morgan well -- if it is available -- he said would depend on how deep drilling had to go to find a source. He said the exploratory process would take a month from the time the city reached an agreement with Morgan.
Kornelis said a second well was considered in the wetlands northwest of Twin City Raceway off of Shotgun Drive, but costs to explore this area would be more than what the city already is faced with.
"It would cost too much to build a road and extend the water main back to the city," he said.
Kornelis said the location along Bridge Access Road would be the best scenario.
"It would be ideal, because it would feed all those businesses along Bridge Access Road."
But Morgan won't say whether he will yield the land he's owned for 25 years to the city.
"I don't care whether they buy it or not," he said.
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