Guest Commentary

Wichita working to improve water system

Wichita’s water treatment plant.
Wichita’s water treatment plant.

The Wichita Eagle’s recent story about the city’s water infrastructure highlighted an issue of national concern. By 2025, the American Water Works Association estimates that $1 trillion will be needed to address drinking water problems for the next 25 years.

Unlike many communities, city leaders have a plan in place to improve our water system. It began in 2016, when the city had an inventory of asset condition prepared. From that study, the city developed a long-term investment plan to improve the condition of water and sewer assets and identified funding opportunities for the large capital projects.

Over the last five years, the city has invested more than $200 million in its water infrastructure to ensure that Wichitans have reliable water service. For the next 10 years, $875 million more is programmed for water improvements, which includes the new Northwest Water Treatment Facility.

The city of Wichita has staff that are dedicated to providing safe and reliable drinking water every hour of every day. Duplicate parts are on hand to ensure that when something breaks it can be fixed immediately. Staff has worked through emergency repairs and, because of their expertise, Wichita has not experienced a single, widespread water outage.

Investment into the current water treatment plant helps to ensure that there will be no disruption to water service while the new water treatment plant is being built. This investment will also ensure that the current plant can be used to treat water into the future and even after the new water treatment plant is built, if the city so chooses.

The city continues to emphasize investment into all of its infrastructure, as demonstrated by the $130 million programmed for pavement preservation, the $62 million for public facilities, and the $52 million for stormwater assets, all in the next 10 years. These investments will guarantee that our children and grandchildren inherit a sound public infrastructure.