Wichita’s 21st-century water needs are bigger than the Equus Beds aquifer and Cheney Reservoir, which is why costly decisions lie ahead for city leaders. But it was encouraging to learn from the U.S. Geological Survey this month that groundwater levels in the central part of the aquifer, where the city’s wells are located, increased by 3 feet from 2014 to 2015, likely because Wichita reduced 2014 withdrawals by more than 50 percent. The aquifer is now 96 percent full, up from the recorded low of 80 percent in 1993. In 2007 Wichita started artificially recharging the Equus Beds with storm runoff from the Little Arkansas River, as part of a strategy to sustain this regional municipal and agricultural water resource and also slow down an approaching chloride plume. Mother Nature’s role is undeniable, but so is that of the city’s foresighted stewardship. – Rhonda Holman
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