Wichita City Council approves settlement regarding failed water pumps

City Council members approved without comment Tuesday a settlement with a Wichita contractor over failed pumps at the city’s groundwater recharge project northwest of the city.

Thirty failing submersible pumps and motors that have plagued the city’s groundwater recharge program will be replaced under the settlement with project contractor Dondlinger & Sons Construction. Ten pumps were replaced in May and the other 20 were switched out on Friday, city officials said.

The contractor’s cost is estimated at somewhere between $450,000 and $600,000.

Included in the replacement are five pumps and motors that initially failed with little usage last fall, city officials said, sparking concerns that the brand of pump used to build the field may be inadequate. The city also gets 15 extra pumps and motors — all different brands from the original — to be used as replacements at the well field.

The city’s ASR – aquifer storage and recharge – program is designed to provide Wichita a water supply for decades to come. It takes floodwater from the Little Arkansas River, purifies it and then returns it to the Equus Beds underground aquifer to store for future city use. It had largely been idled by the drought, but city officials are putting the system into use after recent heavy rains. It runs from northern Sedgwick County into western Harvey County.

Currently, the Equus Beds supply 25 to 30 percent of the city’s water while the city uses excess rainfall at Cheney Reservoir, public works director Alan King told the council Tuesday. The city initially planned to take 60 percent or more of its water from the groundwater as Cheney water levels sagged under the drought. But King said Tuesday that the water in the Equus Beds is over-committed between the city’s use and agricultural uses, a source of concern to city officials.

Related stories from Wichita Eagle