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Environmental Remediation and Education in Wichita, Kansas

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Volatile organic compounds (PCE, TCE, cis-1,2-DCE, and VC) have impacted a large volume of groundwater in Wichita, Kansas and have created a plume of contaminated groundwater approximately four miles long and a mile and a half wide. This contaminated groundwater presented a threat to human health and the environment, and the widespread environmental contamination and potential Superfund listing of the site resulted in stagnant real estate lending and an absence of economic redevelopment due to the environmental liability concerns.

In a proactive response to the contaminated groundwater, the City of Wichita (City) entered into an agreement with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) to facilitate the groundwater remediation efforts. The City, with CDM's assistance, worked with KDHE to establish site-specific alternate cleanup levels (ACLs) for the primary contaminants. The establishment of the ACLs reduced the total groundwater volume to be treated by approximately 40 percent and helped to reduce the estimated cost of the project by 8 million when compared to the initial cost projections.

The City, with CDM's assistance, investigated the contaminated groundwater, designed and built a groundwater treatment system to protect human health and the environment, and designed and built the Wichita Area Treatment, Education, and Remediation Center (WATER Center) to provide environmental education resources for the entire Wichita community. The design-build nature of the project allowed the construction efforts to be streamlined and various valueengineering improvements to be incorporated throughout the design and construction efforts. The treated water from the treatment system is used to supply fountains, an interior aquarium, an exterior fish observatory structure, a creek, an irrigation system, and other water features.

The City has turned an environmental liability that threatened human health into an environmental education resource for current and future generations. The project has also promoted significant economic redevelopment efforts as the environmental liability concerns associated with the groundwater contamination have been addressed.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 January 2004

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