News Feature | May 1, 2014

Wichita Searches For Ways To Expand Water Supply

By Sara Jerome
@sarmje

wichitareg

As Kansas crafts a 50-year water plan, Wichita is looking for ways to expand its water supply in the near term. 

The largest city in Kansas currently "gets its water from Cheney Reservoir and wells in the Equus Beds aquifer," the Wichita Eagle reported. But it needs another drinking water source due to the severe drought plaguing the state. 

City officials are considering two options: expanding the city's aquifer recharge project, and purchasing treated water from El Dorado Reservoir, according to the Associated Press.

It is still unclear how the council will proceed. 

"No action was taken by the city council but the task force will narrow the list of recommended options the council should consider. That will be presented in a white paper [that a task force] will deliver to the city council in May," KAKE reported

Some city council members have been critical of the recharge project in its current state. They are wary of expanding it. The project is designed to store river water in the Aquifer so it can be used in the future.  

"Public works director Alan King reported that it is generating only half the water city officials had projected – 5,800 acre-feet or 1.8 billion gallons of water a year, instead of the projected 11,000 acre-feet or 3.5 billion gallons a year," the Wichita Eagle reported. "An acre-foot is enough water to provide four Wichita households with water for a year."

Under the proposal, the aquifer would be expanded and dozens of new wells would be constructed, with the goal of creating a water supply to match the capacity of the water treatment plant: 30 million gallons per day, the Eagle reported. 

"That plan is projected to yield 8,000 acre-feet of water, or 2.6 billion gallons, protecting the city through 2024. Severe water conservation by the public would be needed to extend the city’s drought protection through 2060," the report said. 

The second option, buying treated water, would be costly. 

"The city of El Dorado has offered to deliver treated water to the 21st and Webb booster station. Wichita would pay El Dorado $234 million for start-up capital costs to cover a treatment plant and the pipeline," the Eagle reported. 

Kansas officials are working on a state-wide 50-year plan to secure the water supply. 

The Associated Press reported: "A 50-year plan for managing water in Kansas is likely to include regional conservation rules and greater use of the Missouri River for the state's residents, officials working on the proposal said [April 11]." 

For more on policy and politics, check out Water Online's Regulations and Legislation Solution Center

Image credit: "Spring Evening Silhouette, Wichita," © 2008 Sharon Mollerus, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

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