When you open up a spigot to draw a glass of water, did you ever stop to think about where this vital resource is coming from? Many customers may not know the answer.
The water that McPherson BPU provides its customers comes from ground water pumped from the Equus Beds underground aquifer. McPherson BPU wells pump water to the surface at rates ranging from 700-1,400 gallons per minute. How fast water is pumped is determined by customer demand. All but three of these wells flow directly into BPU’s “blend” plant where the water is treated with chlorine, for disinfection and phosphate, for corrosion control. Adding a small amount of these chemicals ensures the water is safe to drink. The other 3 wells pump their water into the “V.O.C.” (Volatile Organic Compounds) plant where the water is aerated to remove organic contaminates specifically tetrachloroethylene that was detected in the supply through required testing.
McPherson BPU water operators are continually performing tests on the supply to ensure it stays clean and safe including 15 coliform and escherichia coli (e.coli) per month, quarterly V.O.C. samples, one nitrate test per year and inorganic, lead and copper tests every 3 years. The McPherson BPU is required to publish the results of these tests annually. This water quality report can be found here. After the water is treated, it is then pumped into a storage tank and upon demand by the customer flows through distribution pipes into the home and ultimately to the faucet. McPherson BPU’s water system includes a water treatment facility, a pump station, 110 miles of water pipes and 12 collector wells to gather water from the aquifer.
More interesting facts about the McPherson BPU water department:
Its water from the Equus water beds about 95 ft underground
It serves nearly 5,073 residential water customers in an area of approximately 225 square miles
It has the capacity to pump more than 10.8 million gallons of water a day to its customers.
It stores 3 million gallons of water in above ground elevated tanks as well as another 1.5 million gallons in underground storage
It supports 554 fire hydrants throughout the city of McPherson
Five of McPherson BPU’s water seven water department employees have achieved their “class 4” certification, the highest certification a water operator can receive. These certifications are valid for two years. After that period operators must re-certify by proving they have attended 10 hours of pre-approved continuing education during the two-year term of the certificate. The other 2 operators are working toward this.
The McPherson Board of Public Utilities understands the importance of conserving and protecting our natural resources. Every year in October, the McPherson BPU puts on the Children’s Water Festival to educate area 4th graders on where their water comes from and how to protect it.
Water System Maintenance and Cleaning
The BPU takes great pride in both their electric and water systems. For this reason they are continually reinvesting in their infrastructure and working on projects that keep both systems safe and reliable. Currently the maintenance department is cleaning the clear well and cleaning/ inspecting the sleeve valves and strainer. This project is done every five years.