Firm designs next phase of Wichita Aquifer Recovery Program
Firm designs next phase of Wichita Aquifer Recovery Program
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Firm designs next phase of Wichita Aquifer Recovery Program
05/04/2009 2 minute read

Joint venture team for one of the largest, most complex aquifer recovery programs will recharge the Equus Beds aquifer, protect water quality and provide water supply for the Wichita area for the next 50-plus years.

Burns & McDonnell has been selected as part of a joint venture team that will provide engineering design and construction services for water intake, water treatment and well field facilities for the second phase of the Wichita Aquifer Storage and Recovery Program. This innovative project will recharge the Equus Beds aquifer, protect water quality from chloride contamination and provide water supply for the Wichita regional area for the next 50 years and beyond. The project will be among the largest and most complex aquifer recovery programs currently underway in the United States.

The joint venture team includes Kansas City, Mo.-based Burns & McDonnell, St. Louis-based Alberici Constructors, and Topeka, Kan.-based CAS Construction.

Under terms of the $74.2 million contract, Burns & McDonnell, Alberici and CAS will design and build a river intake with capacity to withdraw up to 33 million gallons per day (MGD) and an interconnected water treatment facility with capacity to treat up to 30 MGD. In addition, Burns & McDonnell will design 20 new wells and upgrade 10 existing wells that will inject the treated water back into the aquifer. Upon completion, recharge capacity will be increased to 40 MGD. Other components of the second phase project include construction of water pipelines, additional power lines, electronic control systems and maintenance facilities.

Design of the injection wells is underway with drilling, development and testing to commence in July and be complete by March 2010. Construction of the river intake and treatment facilities will begin in September 2009 and be complete by April 2011.

The project is the second phase of a multi-year project designed to restore the massive Equus Beds Aquifer, a 1,400-square-mile underground water reserve that was first developed as Wichita's primary water supply source and as an agriculture irrigation system during the 1940s and 1950s.

Burns & McDonnell has worked with the City of Wichita since 1992 on a series of studies and later development of an Integrated Local Water Supply Plan that calls for recharging the aquifer with water drawn from the Little Arkansas River. Recharging the aquifer with injected water will raise the overall water table and slow the migration of a brine plume and mineralized water into the city's well field area.

An aquifer storage and recovery (ASR) demonstration project was operated from 1997 through 2002 and proved that the aquifer could be recharged with river water withdrawn during above-normal flows. Under the first-phase recharge program completed in 2006, up to 10 MGD of water is diverted from the Little Arkansas River and pumped into the well field. The additional water is designed to serve as a barrier to slow or halt migration of the polluted salt water.

The second phase project will significantly increase the volume of water from the Little Arkansas River during flood stages that is available to recharge the aquifer. Up to 33 million gallons of water per day will be drawn from the Little Arkansas River during high flows and pumped into a treatment facility where the water will pass through advanced treatment systems designed to remove turbidity and various pollutants. The treated water will then be pumped into a storage tank where it will be pumped back into the aquifer through a system of 30 wells and a large recharge basin. The recharged water will then be available for use as a water supply for the City of Wichita.

The project is the second of a four phase 100 MGD aquifer storage and recovery project that is designed to meet regional water demands through the year 2050.

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