All local consumers should consider ways to conserve.

Water always is a hot topic of conversation in western Kansas.

Usually, discussion focuses on the lack of water and drought that plague the region.

More recently in Garden City, attention turned to a pending increase in water rates.

The Garden City Commission decided last week to pursue an ordinance calling for an increase in the minimum base charge all water customers pay, along with a slight increase in water usage rates.

The plan came in response to the city's water provider, Wheatland Electric, calling for a rate increase as a way to ensure that it recovers its cost of doing business. Although the timing of the proposed increase raised eyebrows, it reportedly wasn't retaliation for the city recently ending its electricity deal with Wheatland.

Either way, the city's plan in response to the rate increase would raise the minimum monthly charge for all local water accounts by $5.15. Commissioners also agreed to raise water usage rates slightly to help generate funds needed to address an aging water system infrastructure that has produced low water pressure and discolored water in some parts of the city.

The governing body did its best to minimize the financial impact on water users. While any additional costs will frustrate some, monthly fees are but one reason to consider the importance of controlling water usage.

Indeed, one would think the alarming decline in the region's chief water source, the Ogallala Aquifer, would be reason enough to compel people and their communities to do more to save water.

While agriculture takes the biggest toll on the aquifer, the water supply also serves homes, businesses and industries, and such recreational opportunities as parks and golf courses.

With that in mind, local and area governments, businesses and other organizations should work toward community plans that encourage better water conservation methods. Even simple acts watering lawns less often, for example could lead to savings.

Water usage, after all, should be on everyone's mind whether it's the monthly bill or long-term sustainability of the water source in a region that has no future without a dependable supply of the precious resource.