The city of Wichita, KS is receiving national recognition for the way they are handling the problem of contaminated ground water. According to John Davis, Supervisor of Environmental Health for the city of Wichita, about a four square mile area of water that lies underneath the city has become polluted over a span of about 50 years. “Instead of letting the situation become a Superfund with the EPA involved, the city decided to take matters into their own hands and take charge of the clean up,” said Davis. The process is unique because most municipalities wait for the EPA to step in where the financial woes can become enormous. The Superfund is a liability scheme rather than a monitoring program and the law is particularly controversial. Superfund clean-ups have been slow and cumbersome. Some argue the law unfairly punishes companies only fractionally responsible for enormously expensive clean-ups.
The seven million dollar plan calls for a treatment plant to be built that will strip the chlorinated solvents from the ground water using a hydraulic-venturi air stripper. The treatment plant will also house an educational facility for the study of water purification and serve as a model for others. For now, the city is busy mapping out and installing a polyethylene piping system to remove the water from the ground and transport it to the treatment facility.