Wastewater Treatment

Lift Stations

Wastewater lift stations are facilities designed to move wastewater from lower to higher elevation, particularly where the elevation of the source is not sufficient for gravity flow and/or when the use of gravity conveyance will result in excessive excavation depths and high sewer construction costs.

Key elements of lift stations include a wastewater receiving well (wet-well), often equipped with a screen or grinding to remove coarse materials; pumps and piping with associated valves; motors; a power supply system; an equipment control and alarm system; and an odor control system and ventilation system. Lift station equipment and systems are often installed in an enclosed structure. They can be constructed on-site (custom-designed) or prefabricated.

Lift stations are used to reduce the capital cost of sewer system construction. When gravity sewers are installed in trenches deeper than three meters (10 feet), the cost of sewer line installation increases significantly because of the more complex and costly excavation equipment and trench shoring techniques required. The size of the gravity sewer lines is dependent on the minimum pipe slope and flow. Pumping wastewater can convey the same flow using a smaller pipeline size at shallower depth, thereby, reducing pipeline costs.

Fifty-six lift stations are located throughout the City of Wichita and operate 24 hours a day to pump sewage to the wastewater treatment facility. To keep them operating at their fullest potential, please avoid flushing diaper wipes, paper towels, rags and grease down the drain. These materials can clog the pumps which can result in sewage backing up into nearby homes and businesses.

Will It Flush? Video

Although products like facial tissues, dental floss, cotton swabs, and kitty litter may flush down the toilet, they can cause clogged pipes for you and your neighbors. See what happens when you flush.

Can't Flush This Video

The MC Plumber video may be a bit of fun, but behind it is an important message that could end up helping you keep your pipes clear - avoiding unnecessary hassle and cost.

Wastewater Plants

Clean water is critical for sustaining life, yet polluted water and inadequate sanitation kills at least two children every minute worldwide. Even in the United States, where wastewater treatment is relatively advanced compared to some countries, many people take the flow of water in and out of their homes for granted. Where does it all go after we flush the toilet or pull the plug on the drain? What's more, how does this used water get cleaned and safely find its way back into the environment?

The answer is your local wastewater treatment facility, which operates 24/7 to make sure your community's wastewater is treated properly and released back into waterways such as lakes, streams, and rivers, where it flows to one of the great oceans or lakes. It can also be used again along the way for irrigation, commercial or residential use, groundwater replenishment, and even drinking water, or it evaporates into the atmosphere and returns as rain in some other part of the world. Water is used over and over again, and thousands of water quality professionals around the world work to protect its quality and cleanliness.

Wastewater Treatment Facilities

Public Works and Utilities Sewage Treatment Division operates and maintains four Wastewater Treatment Facilities and 68 Sanitary Sewer Lift Stations. These facilities provide primary, secondary, and advanced wastewater treatment, along with disinfection prior to discharge. These facilities operate under permits to discharge treated wastewater, which are issued by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment that set forth specific discharge criteria that is protective of Public Health and the Environment.

  1. Lower Arkansas River
  2. Four Mile Creek
  3. Cowskin Creek

The Lower Arkansas River Water Quality Reclamation Facility has the designed capacity to treat 54.4 million gallons per day (MGD) of wastewater.

After completion of treatment, flow from this facility (effluent) is discharged into the Arkansas River.

Pretreatment and Biosolids

Industrial Pretreatment and Wastewater Laboratory Programs

As part of Wichita's NPDES Permit to discharge treated sewage to the Arkansas River, the City is required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to implement and enforce the Federal Pretreatment Regulations which include pollutant discharge standards for categorical industries (e.g. Metal Finishers, Foundries, Circuit Board Manufacturers, Oil Refineries), as well as general regulations for all Significant Industrial Users (SIU).

The City regulates all local industries which discharge pollutants into the sanitary sewer that may cause any interference or damage to the municipal sewage conveyance and treatment system, or cause the City's sewage treatment plant to violate its NPDES Permit limitations.

These requirements place the City in the position of being a service provider and a regulator. Wichita Water Utilities strives to perform both duties well, by providing excellent water and sewer service to its customers and by enforcing all Pretreatment Regulations in a fair and equitable manner.

To determine if an industrial process will be regulated by the City, first determine if the industry qualifies as a Significant Industrial User. If the industry meets the SIU criteria, then it must be issued an Industrial Wastewater Discharge Permit by the City. The Permit will contain certain conditions and requirements the industry must meet to maintain compliance with all Federal, State, and local Pretreatment Regulations.

General SIU criteria is as follows:

  • The industry discharges at least 25,000 gallons per day of wastewater to the sanitary sewer.
  • The industrial process is identified as one of the Federal Pretreatment Categorical Industries. For a list of categorical industries, contact the Pretreatment Office at 316-303-8703.
  • The industry discharges a pollutant that could cause interference or damage to the Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTW) or negatively impacts the receiving waters upon discharge or sewage sludge disposal requirements.
  • The industry discharges a waste stream that the Director of the Water and Sewer Department has reasonably determined requires the issuance of an Industrial Wastewater Permit to Discharge.

All SIUs permitted by the City are subject to a permit fee which is based on the industrial wastewater daily flow rates. Your best course of action is to contact the City's Pretreatment Office at 316-303-8703 and let them evaluate your need for a permit.

The 2015 Pretreatment Workshop was held on November 19th. Topics included Commercial Water and Sewer Billing, Asset Management, Flow Meters, and OSHA's SHARP program. Copies of the presentations are provided below:

Extra Strength Sewage Billing Program

In has a sewage surcharge program called the Extra Strength Program. If the industry discharges waste that contains high concentrations of treatable pollutants, then the industry is sampled and billed on a monthly basis for the treatment of this "extra strength" waste. This assures that the treatment and disposal costs associated with wastewater with conventional pollutant concentrations higher than residential wastes will be paid for by the industry rather than the residential customer. Conventional Pollutants billed by the Water and Sewer Department are:

  • Biochemical Oxygen Demand
  • Total Suspended Solids
  • Oil and Grease

These are current inside-the-city rates and are assessed per pound per month based on the volume discharged and the analytical results of the samples collected during the monthly billing cycle. Outside the city rates are approximately 55% higher.

Sewer Service Usage and Billing

Your monthly sewer usage charge is based on the amount of City water consumed during the billing cycle. However, if the industry supplements its City water usage with well water and discharges the total to the sewer, then the industry must either meter the well water consumed or install a totalizing meter at the point of wastewater discharge into the City sewage collection system.

Many industries discharge less water than what is consumed, as a result of water going out in the product (e.g. commercial bakeries, soft drink manufacturers, concrete companies), or water evaporated during operations (e.g. boilers, cooling towers). In order to receive credit on the sewer bill, the industry must request that the City install a meter at the water that is not being discharged or request that the City install a meter a the point of wastewater discharge into the City sanitary sewer.

Remedial Groundwater Discharge Program

Some facilities have contaminated groundwater which must be treated and discharged. The City prefers that these businesses seek other alternatives than the sanitary sewer to discharge the groundwater. However, as a temporary measure, the City may accept the treated groundwater if it meets Pretreatment Discharge Standards and capacity is available in the sanitary sewer. The discharge period is limited to a maximum five-year term with annual permit renewals required. The business is required to monitor the discharge to ensure that it meets pretreatment requirements. For Permit monitoring and fee requirements, contact the Pretreatment Office.

Wastewater Laboratory

Every day the Sewage Treatment Laboratory analyzes over 50 samples collected by various processes at the four wastewater facilities to assure that the plants are operating in full compliance with regulatory discharge requirements. The rivers and streams that receive the plants' effluent discharges are also monitored. The laboratory must meet stringent laboratory certification criteria, and by doing so is certified by the National Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program.


Biosolids are the nutrient-rich organic product of wastewater treatment. A beneficial resource, biosolids contain essential plant nutrients and organic matter and are recycled as a fertilizer and soil amendment.

Wastewater treatment processes are taken right out of nature's recipe book. In streams and lakes, natural aeration helps to purify the water while microorganisms break down solids. Wastewater treatment uses the same idea; the liquid portion is treated and returned to streams, lakes, or oceans, and the solids are further processed into stable organic material, called biosolids.

Everyone contributes directly or indirectly to biosolids. Both businesses and households, whether connected to sewer systems or on septic tanks, generate biosolids. Today, modern treatment processes and strict controls on discharges to sewers contribute to high-quality, recyclable biosolids.

The Public Works and Utilities Sewage Treatment Division operates a biosolids land application program which results in approximately 20,000 tons of biosolids applied annually on almost 500 acres of agricultural land that is used to raise crops such as corn, soybeans, and wheat.

Biosolids contain essential plant macronutrients (used by plants in large amounts) including nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur, as well as plant micronutrients (required in smaller amounts) such as zinc and copper. Applications of biosolids allow these nutrients to enter the soil for plant use. Biosolids are retained in the soil and release nutrients slowly as they are needed by plants. Appropriate applications of biosolids prevent nutrients from leaching beyond the plant rooting zone into the groundwater.

Biosolids applications promote plant root growth and generally help plants to grow greener, more vigorously, and often with improved yields. The dense crops grown by biosolids create large amounts of straw and other organic matter that can be tilled back into the soil, improving soil moisture retention and erosion resistance, as well as increasing natural earthworm populations. Recent studies have shown that organic matter used in agriculture helps suppress plant disease. The addition of biosolids can also help to moderate highly alkaline or acidic soil conditions.

Biosolids have been recycled on pastureland, dryland wheat, soybean, and corn in area farmlands surrounding Wichita. Application rates are carefully designed to meet the needs of individual crops. Dewatered biosolids are typically applied with calibrated manure spreaders and tilled into the soil.

​Biological Nutrient Removal

  1. 1987 Plant 2 Secondary Treatment Record Drawing (PDF)
  2. 1988 Plant 2 Aeration Basin Modifications Record Drawing (PDF)
  3. 1995 Plant 2 Biosolids Management Contract 2 Part C2 Record Drawing (PDF)
  4. 1995 Plant 2 Biosolids Management Contract 2 PartC1 Record Drawing (PDF)
  5. 2016 Water-Sewer Master Plans (Sanitary Sewer Master Plan - Facilities) (PDF)
  6. Conceptual Design Cost Estimate (PDF)
  7. Force Main Process Definition and Concept Design of Wastewater Reclamation Facilities Conceptual Drawings (PDF)
  8. KDHE Correspondence Regarding Pilot Testing (PDF)
  9. Level 3 Energy Audits Report (Water-Wastewater Treatment Plants and Pumping Facilities) (PDF)
  10. NPDES Permit (PDF)
  11. Pilot Study Technical Memorandum (PDF)
  12. Plant 1 Process Definition and Concept Design of Wastewater Reclamation Facilities Conceptual Drawings (PDF)
  13. Plant 2 Process Definition and Concept Design of Wastewater Reclamation Facilities Conceptual Drawings (PDF)
  14. Process Definition and Concept Design of Wastewater Reclamation Facilities Detailed Project Schedule (PDF)
  15. Process Definition and Concept Design of Wastewater Reclamation Facilities Environmental Permitting Plan (PDF)
  16. Process Definition and Concept Design of Wastewater Reclamation Facilities Part A (Facilities Alternatives) (PDF)
  17. Process Definition and Concept Design of Wastewater Reclamation Facilities Part B (Treatment Alternatives) (PDF)
  18. Process Definition and Concept Design of Wastewater Reclamation Facilities Part C (Business Case Evaluation) (PDF)
  19. Process Definition and Concept Design of Wastewater Reclamation Facilities Public Engagement Plan (PDF)
  20. Relevant Total Maximum Daily Loads 2007 Cowskin Creek Biological Nutrient Impairment and pH Total Maximum Daily Load (PDF)
  21. Relevant Total Maximum Daily Loads 2019 Arkansas River Nitrate Total Maximum Daily Load (PDF)
  22. Relevant Total Maximum Daily Loads 2019 Arkansas River TP and pH Total Maximum Daily Load (PDF)
  23. Relevant Total Maximum Daily Loads 2020 Cowskin Creek TP Total Maximum Daily Load (PDF)
  24. Sanitary Sewer Master Plan Collection System (PDF)
  25. Wichita 2021 Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act Letter of Intent Wastewater Biological Nutrient Removal (PDF)
  26. Wichita Biological Nutrient Removal Pilot Final Report (PDF)