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City of Wichita, Kansas

It is nearly impossible to overstate the value of good quality data when it comes to enabling a city to manage its water supply and develop conservation strategies. That reality is the reason the city of Wichita, Kansas., turned to Water Resources Solutions in 2016 to map and characterize its irrigation water use in relation to the city’s municipal supply. WRS coupled water-use characterization with planning-level assessments of groundwater, surface water and consumption, discovering an important but under-appreciated vulnerability in Wichita’s ability to meet demand: an over-reliance on thousands of private water wells drawing from the underlying groundwater aquifer with little to no regulation. Conservation, policy, public-education and structural recommendations were made.

The study included a review of the existing city ordinances related to water conservation and recommendations were made regarding strengths and weaknesses of the ordinances. A water use audit was completed to identify the current irrigation water use within the city. This analysis was completed through the use of city records and a GIS model. The city’s water data was related to the land parcels in the city using GIS. This allowed an evaluation of water use by land ownership and land use type.

A consumptive water use evaluation was completed to determine the actual irrigation water requirements for the city. The consumptive water use was calculated using the Penman-Monteith equation and climate data from a weather station in Sedgwick County operated by Kansas State University. A surface water evaluation was completed to identify potential surface water storage areas within the city. This evaluation was completed using GIS to identify potential sites based on proximity to stream, land ownership, and quantity of open area.

A groundwater investigation was completed to evaluate the available water supply from the groundwater aquifers available to the city and to determine future irrigation capacity that could be supported by the groundwater supply. The groundwater analysis included the evaluation of the supplies for three different groundwater aquifers that included the Equus Beds (part of the Ogalalla aquifer), a shallower alluvial aquifer along the Arkansas River, and a bedock aquifer (Wellington formation).

A water conservation toolbox was developed that identified technology tools; landscape alternatives; best management practices; policies, ordinances, and regulations; and public education and outreach opportunities. Finally, the GIS model was used to model three water conservation scenarios using different combinations of groundwater, surface, and existing municipal finished water supplies. The purpose of the scenarios was to evaluate the reallocation of the three water sources.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Kansas City District

Water Resources Solutions water resource planners, and engineers, completed the stream stability study, water supply analysis, groundwater quality study, and practical irrigable acreage analysis for the Section 203 Preliminary Watershed Assessment for watersheds on the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation (PBPN) reservation in northeastern Kansas. Following USACE’s six-step planning process and the USACE Environmental Operating Principles, the purpose of the study was to characterize issues and needs in the study area, and identify at least one feasible, efficacious plan.

Water resources are critically important to the Tribe and play a vital role in the overall health of the community, and their ability to retain many aspects of their cultural heritage. The goal of this study was to evaluate the potential for stream and habitat restoration and protection of cultural resources and infrastructure within watersheds in PBPN Reservation boundaries. The Preliminary Assessment documented existing and future without-project conditions, and recommended proceeding with a cost-shared feasibility study for ecosystem restoration and stream bank stabilization projects.

Management measures recommended by the team were stream bank stabilization, in-stream habitat improvements, stream corridor habitat restoration and enhancements, wetland restoration and enhancements, and an emergency water supply reservoir. The projects will restore habitat, protect water resources, improve natural resource-based cultural resources, provide an emergency water supply for the reservation, and improve water quality. The project team evaluated the available streams data to determine locations within the Soldier and Little Soldier Creek watersheds that provided multiple restoration opportunities. The team determined three locations with the Tribe having the greatest control of property within the southernmost site, which offers the greatest opportunity to implement all of the management measures.

Cost estimates of the proposed management measures were created to provide a preliminary budget for the Federal project. The project team estimated the opportunity areas resulting in 2 miles of streambank stabilization, 2 miles of instream habitat improvements, 400 acres of riparian restoration and enhancement, and 100 acres of wetland restoration and enhancement.

Another key element of the study is stakeholder and Tribal engagement, including the PBPN Tribal Council and departments, USACE Kansas City, U.S. EPA, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Jackson County Soil Conservation District, and regional watershed organizations and universities.


Working for the US Army Corps of Engineers under authority of Section 203 of the 2000 Water Resources Development Act, the Ad Astra team has completed a draft watershed Existing Conditions/Future Without Project Report as a precursor to a broader, yet to be completed, fully integrated watershed Feasibility Study/Environmental Assessment for Kansas’s Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation. Aimed at providing a platform for the federal government to work with federally recognized native American tribal governments, Section 203 coordinates tribal leadership and federal agencies to study water and other resource challenges such as flood damage reduction, environmental restoration and protection, and preservation of cultural and natural resources.
The purpose of this Ad Astra-led study is to identify, describe and examine reasonable alternatives in detail and identify the preferred alternative as the most technically, economically, socially, and environmentally defensible alternative as determined by the sponsor tribe for several identified water resources problems and opportunities in the Soldier Creek watershed within the boundaries of the PBPN reservation. The 121-square-mile reservation, located in north-central Jackson County, Kansas, encompasses portions of the Soldier Creek and Delaware River watersheds. The study area exhibits a variety of problems threatening aquatic and terrestrial ecosystem resources, including streambank instability, sedimentation, poor water quality, adjoining land use conflicts, and reduced riparian and wetland habitats. A watershed-based evaluation is needed to determine the best alternatives to benefit not only stream health, but also the tribe and other landowners within the reservation.
As part of the feasibility study, Ad Astra team members will complete an analysis of all reasonable alternatives, including both structural and non-structural measures.
As part of the Existing Conditions/Future Without Project Report, Ad Astra conducted the following tasks:
Conducted site reconnaissance of the project site to document current conditions, evaluate opportunities and challenges, and guide needed date collection and survey needs.
Carried out an HTRW Phase I environmental site assessment to identify current and historical recognized environmental conditions. A site reconnaissance was used to identify potential conditions.
Conducted a cultural resources survey, including contextual research along with an assessment of areas determined to require geomorphological assessment to determine potential for deeply buried deposits.
Conducted an engineering analysis of stream channel stability for Soldier Creek and Little Soldier Creek using RiverFlow2D. The analysis included a sediment transport component.
Mapped vegetative cover to evaluate environmental sensitivity and conducted stream visual and habitat assessments. The contract incorporated a sponsor in-kind contribution on this aspect in order to improve cost efficiency.
Analyzed socioeconomic impact. Ad Astra evaluated the socioeconomic and demographic setting of the project site and potential project impacts, including environmental justice issues.
Held five project meetings during the course of the project to coordinate its work, engage the sponsor and potential stakeholders and to inform the public.
Assembled the project findings into a concise integrated document for the sponsor and the Corps of Engineers to use for future implementation.
Now that the project area has been thoroughly characterized and existing and future conditions are understood, Ad Astra has moved forward with plan formulation for future with project conditions within a 50-year horizon, including:
Developing restoration alternative measures to address the identified problems and planning objectives. Concepts will be developed for each habitat area, primarily based on the existing topography and hydrology.
Conducting a water-supply engineering analysis based on the two-dimensional hydraulic model.
Continue holding regular meetings during the course of project development to coordinate work, engage sponsors and stakeholders, and inform the public.
Develop a concise, integrated feasibility study and environmental assessment document for sponsors to use in implementing the project.

The primary use of water on the PBPN is agricultural. Crop water requirements were calculated for existing and future crop patterns and the needed water supply quantified.  This information was used to size a future water supply reservoir for the PBPN.  A practicable irrigable acreage study was also completed for the PBPN to determine the future water supply requirements should additional land be placed into agricultural row-crop or grazing production on the PBPN.  It also analyzed past research regarding the quality and quantity of groundwater available beneath the reservation. Ad Astra held public meetings for the project that included participation from several state and federal agencies.