Aquifer Storage, Recovery & Treatment Facility

Client: City of Wichita, Kansas
Completion Date: Ongoing
Location: Wichita, Kansas


When drought struck and water quality issues surfaced in Wichita two decades ago, city leaders opted to launch a comprehensive search for solutions: Secure potential water sources, prevent ongoing supplies from drying up, and protect existing sources from contamination.

Burns & McDonnell evaluated a broad range of ideas, options and approaches, leading to development of an innovative system that taps into both surface and groundwater. The result: Equus Beds Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR), an ambitious vision for treating water from the Little Arkansas River during high-flow periods, then injecting the treated flow into the overdrawn Equus Beds underground repository.

Burns & McDonnell provided design-build services for a new surface treatment and river intake, which together had been anticipated to cost $104 million but instead — thanks to value engineering and focused construction methods — ended up at $74 million. The unique system combines membrane filtration with the world’s largest advanced oxidation system — six times larger than next biggest of its kind – to remove atrazine and other contaminants from as much as 30 million gallons of raw river water, operating only when the river is at high flow. The treated water is used both enhance and secure the 900,000-acre aquifer for future use.

The city of Wichita procured the project, with Burns & McDonnell teaming with Alberici Constructors and CAS Constructors on design-build work to complete the river intake, water treatment facilities, recharge wells and basins.

In delivering the first ASR project in Kansas, the project’s planning team worked with multiple state agencies and conducted a wide-ranging public relations and awareness campaign to inform area residents while averting a mounting environmental crisis.

Project Awards

Among project honors received in 2015:
  • Water Project of the Year Finalist, Global Water Summit
  • DBIA Mid-America Regional Award
  • Engineering Excellence Award, American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) of Kansas
  • National Recognition Award, ACEC 
  • Spotlight project, U.S. Water Alliance’s One Water Leadership Conference