The City of Wichita and Spirit AeroSystems today announced a joint water conservation plan that would save hundreds of millions of gallons of potable water annually and bolster Wichita’s available water capacity for future growth. The proposed plan provides for the City to sale treated wastewater effluent to Spirit for reuse in its industrial manufacturing processes. A key benefit is that the plan is revenue-neutral for ratepayers, and Spirit covers all design and construction costs necessary for a two-mile long dedicated pipeline to transport the effluent water to its facility on south Oliver.
The proposed plan is expected to be considered by the Wichita City Council at its regular meeting on December 15th.
“Pursuing projects like this provide an opportunity to support a major employer, protect our long-term water supply, and hold costs steady for ratepayers,” said Mayor Jeff Longwell. “Similar projects have been done in the southwest, but this marks the first such effort in our region.”
The effluent water is currently being discharged into the Arkansas River after being treated and then disinfected via ultraviolet light. Chlorine will be added to the effluent water to protect the pipeline before arriving at Spirit’s facility. The new pipeline will connect into Spirit’s infrastructure through a separate system dedicated exclusively to manufacturing processes. Potable water will continue to be provided to Spirit via a separate pipeline.
“Spirit has already recycled more than 10 billion gallons of potable water since 1998,” said Ron Rabe, Spirit AeroSystems senior vice president for Operations. “We are proud to build on this success by partnering with the City to help achieve the community’s water conservation targets and increase Wichita’s available water supply. This proposed project will serve as a demonstration of how we can increase water conservation through a pro-business model that will bring long-term benefits to the community. We value Mayor Longwell’s leadership on this issue and his partnership along with the City Council members who have worked with us throughout the process.”
This project will decrease Spirit’s potable water usage by 70 percent. Following are key components of the proposed agreement:
• The project is rate-neutral for Wichita water users;
• Spirit pays all infrastructure costs;
• Ratepayers benefit by delaying the need and the associated costs for new water sources to meet growing demand;
• Any lost potable water revenue will be offset by previously-allocated conservation funds; and
• The return on investment for the conservation funds is measurable, significant, and comes with a high probability for positive long-term impact
Spirit AeroSystems is one of the world’s largest independent producers of commercial aerostructures. Its core products include fuselages, pylons, nacelles and wing components. Spirit has long-term agreements in place with its largest customers, Boeing and Airbus. Other major customers include Bombardier, Rolls-Royce, Mitsubishi, Sikorsky and Bell Helicopter.