Apr 04, 2011

Equus Beds Aquifer Recovers 65% Water Storage Volume

Efforts by city of Wichita helped in recovery

The Equus Beds aquifer in Kansas has recovered about 65% of its water storage volume that was lost from 1940 through 1992, according to a U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) study.

The Equus Beds aquifer and Cheney Reservoir provide water to the city of Wichita, which was not expected to meet projected water needs into the 21st century.

The Wichita Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) program is one of the city’s approaches to meet those water demands. Major factors that aided the aquifer’s recovery include a 49% decrease in municipal water withdrawals from the aquifer by the city of Wichita between 1993 and 2009, a greater reliance on Cheney Reservoir and an increase in annual precipitation. To help meet future water requirements, the ASR program is using water from the Little Arkansas River to artificially recharge the Equus Beds aquifer. Results of this ongoing cooperative study between the USGS and the city of Wichita can be found online.

“This study demonstrates that the city’s combined efforts of the Aquifer Storage and Recovery program and decreasing city pumpage are resulting in large benefits to the aquifer,” said Deb Ary, superintendent of production and pumping for Wichita Water Utilities.

The ASR program is a key component in the city of Wichita’s long-range plans to meet water needs through 2050 and is vital for restoration of the depleted Equus Beds aquifer. The artificial recharge during 2007 to 2009 contributed about 2,600 acre-ft of water near the recharge sites. The program takes high flows from the Little Arkansas River, cleans it to drinking water quality and recharges the water into the aquifer. In an extended drought, or if increased water demand occurs, the city will withdraw the recharged water to meet needs. The ASR program also is designed to help Wichita protect the aquifer from the intrusion of saltwater from natural and human-related sources.