A leak in a main water pipe that connects the Equus Beds Aquifer and Cheney Reservoir to Wichita's water plant could affect all 450,000 Wichita water users, city officials said Thursday evening.
Officials don’t know exactly where the leak is in the 66-inch steel pipe, but say there is no impact on the water quality because it’s just pressurized water leaking out, not contamination coming in.
Some parts of the line are more than 50 years old, said Alan King, director of public works and utilities.
City crews plan to use a 24-inch bypass pipe to carry some of the untreated water to the plant and are going to add a second bypass pipe to help increase capacity, which could take up to five days. The current bypass pipe has a much lower capacity than the leaky pipe.
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The system current provides 44 million gallons of water a day.
If crews cannot increase the capacity, users may be asked to conserve water, King said. The city may also have to issue a boil alert.
“What we’re doing is working around the clock to get this temporary bypass in place to mitigate the chances of that happening,” King said during a news conference at City Hall.
After the bypass is in place, crews can do excavations to find the original leak, King said.
The leak is near the city’s main water treatment plant and was detected Wednesday by technicians who saw water on the ground, King said. The city did not notify the public until Thursday evening because it was studying the problem, he said.