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The city of Wichita, Kansas, is exploring options to secure its future water supply in an attempt to add extra sources to its water supply system. The city has to meet the needs of its growing population, but also be prepared for a potential severe drought.
Wichita currently uses water from Cheney Reservoir and from wells in the Equus Beds aquifer. At a City Council workshop last week, city officials proposed two more options: purchasing water from El Dorado Reservoir and further expanding the city's $240 million aquifer recharge and storage recovery project, in which water is taken from the river and stored at the aquifer until there is need for it to be used.
However, the latter option was attacked by several council members. Alan King, public works director, argued that the project already falls short of projections, generating 1.8 billion gallons of water per year -- only half of the 3.5 billion gallons officials previously estimated. The proposed expansion would only suffice to meet the needs of Wichita residents until 2024, and significant water conservation by the public would be needed to extend the city's drought protection through 2060, he said.
Meanwhile, buying water from El Dorado Reservoir would require $234 million for start-up capital costs to cover a treatment plant and the pipeline that would carry the water to Wichita. In addition, $16 million would be needed to improve the city's infrastructure, along with $600,000 in annual operating costs.
Further options will be discussed before a final decision is made, the Wichita Eagle reported.