The next wave in water supply management is the storing of water through the practice of Aquifer Storage and Recovery or Aquifer Recharge. Kent Riker, PE, a Senior Project Manager in PSC’s Treatment Sector, and Keith Rutherford, PE, a Senior Associate and a Senior Project Manager in the Treatment Sector, were instructors for the PSCU presentation Getting in Front of the Wave – Changing the Landscape of Water Supply – Aquifer Storage & Recovery / Aquifer Recharge.

Aquifer Storage and Recovery is when water is stored in an aquifer for short or long-term storage, usually during times of surplus, and then extract the water during times of need, usually through specialized wells. In Aquifer Recharge surface water, wastewater or stormwater is treated, then recharged into a depleted aquifer. ASR or AR is not a new water supply management practice in Texas but a resurging one. Parkhill, Smith & Cooper, and the City of El Paso have led the industry for over 30 years ago with the first AR system in Texas, which includes the Fred Hervey Water Reclamation Plant and multiple wells to recharge a depleted water supply aquifer for El Paso.

ASR/AR gives city’s water supply the resiliency and reliability they are seeking. Not only does ASR/AR provide cities with a water supply shielded from evaporation and contamination, but cities can also save money on long transmission infrastructure. An ASR system can be built significantly faster than a new surface water reservoir and with new rules changes that require less regulatory restrictions.

In 2015, the Texas Legislature passed House Bill 655, which was a big step in defining ASR in Texas, where many drought-prone communities are desperate for ways to better manage their water supply. The drought of 2011 was a severe drought prompting the need for HB 655 giving our region another tool to prepare for similar droughts in the future.

“In Texas, it’s not if there’s another drought, but when” Kent said.

“We’ll eventually run out of cheap water supplies,” Keith said.

Kent added: “An estimated 1 billion dollars will be spent on ASR/AR for water supply management in the next 10 years alone.”

The Texas Water Development Board administers governmental funding to communities and scores projects based on the needs. Projects that include ASR can get some additional scoring points that help get a project funded or become earmarked for specialized funding.

“Those who have begun studying ASR/AR and its benefits include some of the most well-known thought leading owners in the water supply industry,” Kent said. “However, ASR is not a magic bullet. The needs of the client must be paired with the right technology and process for a functioning solution, and ASR/AR is no different.”

The Fred Hervey plant, which was designed by PSC in the ’80s, was the first ASR/AR system in Texas and there were only one or two systems in the nation recharging with advance treated reuse water. PSC was at the forefront of this innovation, putting advance treated reuse water back into a depleted potable well field. This is the only site in Texas approved by TCEQ to discharge reuse water into a potable aquifer.

PSC is uniquely qualified to work with its clients to implement an ASR/AR system, having designed over 200 wells — many utilizing specialized well-construction technologies — in the last 10 years along with the experience of advanced treatment systems and 30 years of working with ASR/AR systems.

“We want to be pushing the envelope, but we never put a client in a situation where we overextend their capabilities,” Kent said. “Our vast skill set with the components of an ASR/AR system – with injection and extraction wells, collection systems, storage tanks, and transmission lines – makes PSC uniquely qualified to guide our clients in selecting the right water supply strategy.”