Water Treatment & Distribution

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Water Treatment Division

The Water Treatment Division is responsible for all water treatment activities, in-house engineering and management of water treatment projects and water rights procurement management. The Division works in cooperation with the Distribution and Quality Control Divisions to ensure a safe, reliable and aesthetically pleasing water supply to the citizens of Lawrence and surrounding communities.

The Water Treatment Division operates two treatment facilities, the Kaw River Water Treatment Plant and the Clinton Reservoir Water Treatment Plant.

The Kaw River Water Treatment Plant was completed in 1917 and an addition to the plant was completed in 1958. The Kaw Plant draws its water from the Kansas River and six alluvial wells on the Riverbanks, and its capacity is 16.5 million gallons per day (MGD).

The Clinton Reservoir Water Treatment Plant has a capacity of 25 MGD, which is an increase from its original capacity of 10 MGD since it was put into service on March 1, 1980, due to two separate expansion projects. The Clinton Reservoir serves as the source of raw water to this plant.

Imagine A Day Without Water

Where does the water come from?

All drinking water begins in a watershed. The City of Lawrence diverts water from two surface sources, the Kansas River and the Clinton Reservoir. Supplemental water is also drawn from the Kansas River Alluvium. Each source is independent of one another and consequently increases the reliability of service through the two treatment plants and supply sources.

What common contaminants may be present in source water?

As water travels over the land surface of the land or through the ground, it dissolves naturally-occurring minerals and can pick up substances resulting from the presence of animals or from human activity. Some examples of contaminants:

  • Microbiological contaminants
  • Inorganic contaminants, such as salts and metals
  • Pesticides and herbicides, which may come from a variety of sources such as agriculture, urban stormwater runoff and residential uses
  • Organic chemicals from industrial or petroleum use

In order to ensure that the tap water is safe to drink, EPA prescribes regulations which limit the amount of certain contaminants in water provided by public water systems.

Water Distribution Division

The Water Distribution Division is responsible for installation, maintenance, inspection and repair of the water pipelines that deliver drinking water from the water treatment plants to your taps. The system consists of pipes ranging in size from the large 24-inch transmission lines to small ¾-inch service lines. Five rural water districts and Baldwin City also receive water from the City’s distribution system. The Municipal Services & Operations Department is constantly striving to ensure that clean, safe water is available for both consumption and fire protection needs. The distribution system is continually being upgraded and updated. Each year, sections of pipe that have been identified, for a variety of reasons, as needing replacement are either replaced by distribution personnel or outside contractors.

In-House Water Main Projects

The Distribution Division is engaged in both the installation of new water lines and also the replacement of existing water lines. This replacement program reduces the number of repairs necessary due to outdated piping.

Service Repair and Replacement Program

Water services within the distribution system needing replacement due to outdated piping are nearly non-existent because of intensive replacement programs in the past. Rarely is an active service plumbed with outdated galvanized pipe, but a few are still discovered. Repairing service piping is a time-consuming activity: shut-off valves leak or become inoperative; service piping and appurtenances are also damaged by other means such as contractors, vehicles, construction activities, etc.

Hydrant Maintenance Program

Hydrants, used for flushing and fire fighting need periodic maintenance. This program is designed to provide scheduled maintenance to every city-owned hydrant. Each hydrant is also checked for operational integrity thus ensuring that, in an emergency, they are ready for use. The department also continues to emphasize hydrant painting as part of this program.

Valve Maintenance Program

The Valve Maintenance Program is designed to provide maintenance to the distribution system valves, making sure they are properly mapped, easily accessible and operating correctly.

Meter Testing and Maintenance Program

The large meter testing continues on a scheduled basis. All rural water district meters and the meters to Baldwin City are tested annually. If measuring accuracy is found not to be within established guidelines (98% to 102%), the meter is either replaced or rebuilt. These guidelines apply to all large meters, which are tested on a schedule dependent upon size. Six-inch and larger meters are tested annually, four-inch meters are tested every two years and three-inch meters are tested every three years. The Large Meter Testing and Maintenance Program helps prevent water loss and ensures that customers are billed fairly. The program also updates, when possible, meters, meter plumbing and meter vaults.

Flushing Program

The Flushing Program strives to prevent degradation of water, which occurs when it resides within the distribution for too long. This is especially prevalent where a water main is a dead-end or in new areas where there is insufficient water usage to keep the water in the piping fresh. These areas are flushed on a scheduled basis. A list of flushing points is maintained and, depending on the piping layout and water usage, the areas are flushed as per the schedule. Information obtained and recorded while flushing is used to assist in the determination of the water quality and possible adjustments that may need to be made to the flushing schedule. This program has been very successful in maintaining acceptable levels of water quality not only on dead-end lines but also under-used lines, both existing and newly constructed.

Bulk Water Purchasing

Bulk water can be purchased at the Kaw Water Treatment Plant for 25 cents per 250 gallons of water. The bulk water purchasing station is self-serve only and is located on the east side of the Kaw Water Treatment Plant on Indiana Street, just north of 3rd Street.

Additional information about your drinking water