The national spotlight is shining bright on the City of Wichita Falls.
That’s due to the idea, approval and construction of the innovative water reuse system. The EPA PISCES award was presented during Tuesday’s Wichita Falls City Council meeting, recognizing the work and forward thinking of city leaders who came up with a new source of potable water during a period of extreme drought.
Wichita Falls is one of five cities received a distinction of an “exceptional project.”
“Both the direct potable and the IPR (indirect potable reuse) are highlights of my career,” City of Wichita Falls Public Works Utilities Operations Manager Daniel Nix said.
City councilors, Wichita Falls Public Works Director Russell Schreiber, as well as Daniel Nix were presented with the EPA’S Environmental Success Award.
“It’s a huge honor to be recognized at such a national level, the EPA, the Texas Water Development Board, [a] huge honor to receive this award,” Nix said.
State Water Development Board member Kathleen Jackson came to Wichita Falls for the presentation and said the award signifies a remarkable achievement for a city of this size, first in developing a process to reuse waste water, and secondly to blend it with fresh lake water and return it to the water delivery system..
“First of all, demonstrated, maybe for the first time, that large scale direct potable reuse was achievable,” Jackson said. “Secondly, not only did you avoid the emergency situation that was in place after the drought of 2011. And then, to kind of take it a step further, leadership didn’t just stop there. They looked at the long-term solution and so putting in an indirect potable reuse project to meet the needs of your future water supply,” Jackson said.
Nix said though the award was presented to city officials, in reality, it’s for all the citizens who accepted the idea and helped pay for it.
“We could not have accomplished any of this, the DPR or the IPR, without that public support. And the citizens of Wichita Falls should be proud of what they’ve accomplished. This award is theirs as well,” Nix said.
Showing how the community and its leaders working together can, like it’s water supply, flow smoothly for years to come.
Ironically, the water reuse pumps and pipeline are not in use today. In fact, they haven’t been needed since last October, because the lakes have been full and Kickapoo and Arrowhead are both going over their spillways.