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Wichita Wastewater Treatment Plant Sees Increased Efficiency With Upgraded Disinfection System

Carla Eckels
Operation supervisor Jamie Belden stands in front of trickling filters at the Lower Arkansas River water treatment plant.

Wichita’s Lower Arkansas River wastewater treatment plant has seen significant cost savings since upgrading its ultraviolet disinfection system last year, its supervisor says. The plant is now able to treat more wastewater, which is then released into the Arkansas River.

Last year, the treatment plant switched from a medium ultraviolet treatment system to a high-intensity, low-pressure system.

Jamie Belden, operation supervisor for the City of Wichita's sewage treatment division, says the ultraviolet light doesn’t kill bacteria, but it alters the DNA so bacteria can’t reproduce. He says the new system needs less maintenance, and workers are able to treat 80 million gallons of water per day instead of 60 million.

"By putting that system in, not only are we able to disinfect more wastewater, but over about a two-year period, we’ll recover our investment completely just in energy cost," Belden says.

Belden says electricity costs at the plant have been cut nearly in half. He says all bacteria levels are monitored daily to make sure water is safe for any recreational use of the Arkansas River.


Carla Eckels is assistant news director and the host of Soulsations. Follow her on Twitter @Eckels.

To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at news@kmuw.org.