News Feature | April 14, 2015

Already Serving Recycled Wastewater, Wichita Falls Makes More Drought Plans

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,

As the drought lingers in Texas and across the West, Wichita Falls has been one of the most proactive communities in the country, becoming the only U.S. city to serve recycled wastewater to homes.

"Wichita Falls, which relies on reservoirs, remains under a Stage 5 drought catastrophe. Outdoor watering is banned. The city of more than 100,000 last year began reusing treated wastewater in a state-approved recycling process to bolster drinking supplies," KERA News reported.

Wichita Falls continues to think long-term, making additional plans to secure its water supply. The latest move: Officials are eyeing the Wichita River, which has traditionally been used for irrigation only.

"Public Works Director Russell Schreiber said the rights allow for 16,660 acre-feet per year (about 15 million gallons of water per day) to be drawn from the river. Due to drought conditions, he said the figure is more likely to be about 2 million gallons per day of available water," the Times Record News reported.

"Schreiber said the river water would definitely be thoroughly treated and tested before being allowed for use by the public," the report continued. “We might have some difficulty treating that water. But at least it would be water, and it would be wet,” he said.

Despite its progressive attitude toward water management, Wichita Falls is still feeling the heat. Its three reservoirs are 20, 25, and 28 percent full, according to the state's Water Development Board.

State regulators recently granted Wichita Falls permission to continue using its direct potable reuse system for another year.

"The city received notice that its new UV barrier had met all requirements for renewal. The city has been using the direct potable system, which introduces purified, recycled water into the potable water supply distribution system downstream of a water treatment plant or into the raw water supply immediately upstream of a water supply plant, to help bolster low water supplies due to severe drought in the city. The ultraviolet barrier works as a part of the system," the Associated Press reported.

For more on reusing wastewater, visit Water Online's Water Reuse Solution Center.