Integrated local water supply plan


Courtesy of Burns & McDonnell

Client: City of Wichita, Kan.
Completion Date: June 2001 

Services Provided

  • Water supply planning
  • Evaluation of alternatives
  • Cost estimating
  • Economic comparison
  • Environmental studies (NEPA)
  • Program management
  • Hydrogeologic engineering
  • Water quality monitoring
  • Operations assistance/monitoring
  • Design criteria development
  • Treatment pilot testing
  • Water source optimization modeling
  • Water accounting system
  • Project funding assistance
  • Public information program
  • Permitting agency reviews
  • Monthly/quarterly project reporting
  • Technical publications
  • Environmental clearance

Project Summary 

Burns & McDonnell completed a comprehensive water supply study for the City of Wichita, Kan., in 1993, which recommended an integrated local water supply plan with Equus Beds Aquifer groundwater recharge as the most economical way of meeting water demands through the year 2050.

Twenty-seven water supply alternatives were evaluated with cost estimates and economic comparisons. The plan recommended use of multiple groundwater and surface water sources including storing excess water in the aquifer for future use. The original water supply study and a later engineering re-evaluation study in 1997 identified a potential water shortfall for the City by 2010, and projected needs of 112 million gallons per day (MGD) for average day and 225 MGD for maximum day by year 2050.

Because the concept of aquifer recharge is new to the area, a demonstration recharge project was planned to provide information for design of future facilities, demonstrate water quality compatibility, and prove the suitability of the project to state and local regulatory authorities. In late 1996 and 1997, Burns & McDonnell designed and provided construction phase services for completion of water capture and recharge facilities for the Equus Beds Groundwater Recharge Demonstration Project. From 1993 through 1999, Burns & McDonnell also collected extensive hydrogeologic data in the city’s well field through administration of subcontracts with several well drillers and local consultant MKEC, completing approximately 100 test bores used for geologic profiles, water level monitoring, pump tests and water quality data collection. Burns & McDonnell also cooperated with the U.S. Geological Survey and the city in developing a water quality sampling and analyses plan that has been used in obtaining more than 4,000 water quality analyses for the project.

Operation of the demonstration project by the owner has been monitored continuously by Burns & McDonnell since startup. During this time, significant information and data have been obtained on geologic conditions, aquifer hydrogeology, water levels, recharge rates, recharge techniques, water recovery, well design, pumping rates, aquifer monitoring, water quality, water treatment, chemical feed, chemical and biological fouling, facility layouts, construction materials, access system operation, cleaning of recharge facilities, telemetry controls, environmental impacts, cultural impacts, regulations, permits, land owner interest, agency concerns and cost.

Burns & McDonnell has essentially been serving as the city’s program manager on this project since July 1993, when the original submittal of the Equus Beds Groundwater Recharge Demonstration Proposal was prepared by the engineer and sent to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation requesting project funds. As a result of this initial proposal, and continued annual funding requests by the project team, the city has received more than $3 million to date from the bureau to offset costs associated with operation of the Equus Beds Groundwater Recharge Demonstration Project.

To date, approximately 24 engineering reports, environmental studies and technical documents have been prepared on the water supply project. Burns & McDonnell delivered a report to the city entitled “A Concept Design Study of the Equus Beds Aquifer Recharge, Storage and Recovery (ASR) Project” in May 2000. This report outlined facilities and schedules for the ASR project and other components of the plan from year 2000 through 2050. The estimated cost of these improvements is $283 million (February 2000 prices).

Between 2001 and approximately 2010, a number of improvements (totaling about $83 million) are scheduled for installation to recharge the depleted Equus Beds Aquifer. They will be accomplished by either direct recharge by ASR facilities or by indirect recharge (or conservation of the aquifer) through coordinated use of local well facilities. Approximately 10-15 years will be required to fully recharge the aquifer, at which time, recharged water in the aquifer will be available to meet the city’s increasing water demands during an extended dry weather (or drought) period.

Since inception of the plan in 1993, Burns & McDonnell has worked closely with the city in an active program to inform the public and governmental agencies about the aquifer recharge, storage and recovery project. Presentations and informational materials have been provided to the city council, Chamber of Commerce, and Groundwater Management District No. 2.  Public meetings have been held in the cities of Wichita, Halstead and Sedgwick, and separate annual meetings have been held with attendees from federal, state and local governmental agencies.

Environmental studies have been an integral part of the project since inception, and an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was completed in 2003. The EIS was used to facilitate various project approvals and acquisition of permits from agencies, which are concerned with environmental and cultural impacts.

In 2005, planning changed to implementation. Bids were received on diversion wells, a river intake on the Little Arkansas river, a surface water treatment facility, recharge basins, recharge wells, and connecting piping for Phase I of the ASR project. Phase I will provide over 12 MGD recharge potential.

The Phase I project, built in 2006, is the first of a four-phase 100-MGD ASR project. It expands on the two 1.5-MGD demonstration systems. Diversion well activation and deactivation will be linked to a USGS data collection platform measuring streamflow on the Little Arkansas River. The system will operate above streamflows of 60-cfs and shut off automatically.

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