When facing a critical water shortage two decades ago, the City of Wichita made a bold move, partnering with Burns & McDonnell to develop an innovative solution to restore the 900,000-acre Equus Beds Aquifer, which is now ready for operation. The project is nominated for the Global Water Intelligence Water Project of the Year.
Equus Beds Aquifer Storage and Recovery Project Is Shortlisted As Finalist for Global Project
of the Year
WICHITA, Kan. — When facing a critical water shortage two decades ago, the City of Wichita 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 April 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.
Key facts and features of the ASR project:
- The system diverts water from the Little Arkansas River during high-flow periods and treats it to potable standards before recharging it to the Equus Beds Aquifer.
- The water supply plant and recharge system was designed to operate on a fast-start intermittent basis, so it is only used and staffed during high-flow periods.
- The one-of-a-kind system combines a membrane filtration process with the largest advanced oxidation process (AOP) of its kind installed to date, and is capable of treating raw river water without pretreatment chemical addition processes.
- The system is currently capable of diverting and treating 30 million gallons of water per day when water in the river meets treatment parameters and is built with expansion capability to align with future needs.
- To date, nearly 2 billion gallons of water have been recharged into the aquifer.
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 of Wichita, Kansas, who served as major subcontractors to the joint venture. Burns & McDonnell also supported the City of 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 on April 27 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.
About Burns & McDonnell
Burns & McDonnell is a company made up of more than 5,000 engineers, architects, construction professionals, scientists, consultants and entrepreneurs with offices across the country and throughout the world. We strive to create amazing success for our clients and amazing careers for our employee-owners. Burns & McDonnell is 100 percent employee-owned and is proud to be No. 15 on FORTUNE's 2015 list of 100 Best Companies to Work For. For more information, visit burnsmcd.com.