City of Downs – Water Treatment Plant

The City of Downs is a small Kansas community, approximately 30 miles southeast of Smith Center and surrounded by farmlands and pastures.  The community was experiencing high nitrate levels and aging water treatment equipment coming to the end of its proper life cycle.  Wilson and company provided design and construction solutions considering community input, state & federal regulations, sustainability, environmental impacts, collaboration with surrounding communities, cost of improvements, and reduction of operation and maintenance costs for upgrades to their water distribution systems.  The approach was to improve the water system by addressing deficiencies in specific problematic areas to provide a reliable, dependable, and consistent public water treatment system less susceptible to water quality issues and minimize operation and maintenance costs that satisfy peak and emergency demands.

Wilson & Company designed a new Ion Exchange low waste ion exchange (IX) system using the existing adjacent Granular Activated Carbon building to house the latest equipment.  The Kansas Department of Health and Environment required the city to dispose of the waste brine in the existing wastewater lagoon ponds. The low waste feature allowed for the smallest brine discharged, saving the project thousands of dollars compared to conventional IX treatment.

The treatment system improvements included replacing the existing ISEP Nitrate Removal System with a three-vessel modular configuration ion exchange skid, automated PCL controlled regeneration, new flow meters, bag filters, brine pump tank/skid, a recycle tank/skid, chemical feed equipment, new pumps, valves, controls, and waste system.  These improvements allow the operators to monitor and address real-time nitrate levels, flows, and wear and tear on equipment, saving the city money. The Nitrate Ion Exchange Pressure Vessel System removes harmful nitrate levels in the treated water at an estimated average flow of 300 gallons per minute (GPM). The design showcases two vessels in operation while the other is regenerated and resting on standby, lowering the maintenance costs.  The facility utilizes a bypass system where only a portion of the raw water is treated as it enters the facility. An automated nitrate monitoring system ensures the influent levels from the existing wells, the nitrates leaving the nitrate removal skid, and the nitrates in the blended effluent are regulated, keeping the final effluent at or below the finished water of less than 7mg/L.  An alarm capacity was added to alert Operators to high nitrate levels in both influent and effluent for added safety.

Understanding the limits of the community’s capacity to fund the critical updates and replacements to their water distribution system. Wilson & Company led the acquisition of grant funding opportunities, working alongside the city to submit Needs Assessment documents, grant applications, and permitting requirements.  These activities provided the necessary funding, enabling the city to construct and maintain the new system for many years.