After being in a drought for four years, the city of Wichita Falls and two of its leaders are being recognized for their efforts to keep water flowing into your homes. The high prize and honors are specifically for the temporary water reuse project.
Public Works Director Russell Schreiber was awarded the “Top Public Works Leader of the Year” and Operations Manager Daniel Nix was honored with the “John Tipel Award for Environmental Excellence.” The city was presented with the “Public Works Project of the Year.” All of the awards were presented by the Texas Section of the American Public Works Association.
Getting to this point was not an easy task for anyone involved and many people had their doubts about the project.
“We weren’t concerned about being able to make the water safe to drink,” Schreiber said, “Public acceptance and the regularity obstacles were the biggest concern.
Everyone knew the temporary water reuse project also came with risks.
“The reuse was definitely a career killing project if it had not worked,” Nix said.
Schreiber added, “Had this project not been successful, can you imagine how far back we would have set the reuse industry.”
However, it was a risk they both knew they had to take and a year later it has proven to be well worth it.
Nix explained the project was designed to supply 50-percent of the water demand. So far, the temporary water reuse project has provided just under that.
“So it has met the mark and it’s done extremely well for the last 12 months,” Nix said.
Within that time frame the project has saved nearly two-billion gallons of water, putting Wichita Falls on the leader board of water reuse.
“Conservation and reuse is a very, very viable water management strategy and it will help get yourself through a drought,” Schreiber said.
“We’ve proven it can be done safely and we’ve proven that the public will accept,” Nix said.
This is something places like California are trying to do.
Even though they are grateful for the awards, both Schreiber and Nix said this isn’t just about them being recognized.
“It took everybody to make that project a success and everyone of their roles in the project was important,” Schreiber said.
Neither of them started the project thinking they would get an award. It was about doing their job. They explained there were many elements to the project that had to go perfectly for it to succeed and it did. Something they are all very proud of.
“12 months into this, a lot more people are saying, hey, this can be done and they’re wanting to do it themselves,” Nix said.
In the next 30 days the temporary project will go offline. This will be done so they can remove the pipe and get started on the permanent water reuse project.
“It may take our contractor 90 to 120 days to just remove all that pipe,” Schreiber said.
He explained they plan to bid the project by September and they hope to have everything completed by sometime in 2018.