Wichita's Innovative Approach to Water Supply Management Earns International Recognition
WICHITA, KS When facing a critical water shortage two decades ago, the city of Wichita, Kansas, made a bold move to replenish its most valuable resource. City leaders were interested in not just securing potential water supplies, but protecting existing water sources from depletion and contamination. They partnered with Burns & McDonnell to develop a core component of the water supply program: an innovative solution to restore the 900,000-acre Equus Beds Aquifer while capturing additional unallocated water supplies.
Now ready for operation, the Equus Beds Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) project provides a lifeline of water to local residents. Combining integrated water supply planning and technical innovation on an unprecedented scale, this project is gaining worldwide recognition among water industry leaders. The project is nominated for the Global Water Intelligence Water Project of the Year at the 2015 Global Water Summit, which recognizes the most significant achievements in the international water industry.
"Extreme weather conditions are causing communities across the country to look for new water supply solutions. Wichita is a fantastic case study for others to follow because city leaders have been addressing the need to diversify water sources for nearly two decades," said Brian Meier of Burns & McDonnell. "Wichita's forward-thinking plan taps into both surface and groundwater. With the addition of the ASR system to surface water and groundwater supplies, Wichita is not only protecting a valuable resource, but providing maximum flexibility to respond to periods of drought."
As Global Water Intelligence prepares to identify its project of the year, Wichita is launching operations of its intermittent water supply plant to store the bounty from the spring showers. The system will capture the rainwater, treat it and store it underground within the aquifer to distribute for future needs. The goal is to restore the aquifer for use during future drought conditions, when other sources are stressed or unavailable.
Burns & McDonnell partnered with Alberici Constructors and CAS Constructors to design and build the river intake structure and water treatment facilities. The project team also included Wildcat Construction and Shelley Electric; both served as major subcontractors to the joint venture. Burns & McDonnell also supported Wichita on planning and development of the ASR concept.
The Wichita ASR project will compete against three other projects around the world for the title of Water Project of the Year at the 2015 Global Water Summit in Athens, Greece. The project has already received additional accolades with a DBIA Mid-America Regional Award, the 2015 Engineering Excellence Award from the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) of Kansas, and the 2015 National Recognition Award from ACEC. It will also be featured as a spotlight project at the U.S. Water Alliance's One Water Leadership Conference later this year in San Francisco, California.