City wins top EPA award for water reuse system

January 25, 2022

In a first for the state, the City of Bartlesville has been selected to receive the Environmental Protection Agency’s prestigious George F. Ames PICES Award for its water reuse system project, Water Utilities Director Terry Lauritsen said this week.

The award comes on the heels of the City earning the Oklahoma Water Resources Board’s Water for 2060 Award last month. The City was nominated for the EPA’s PICES — Performance and Innovation in the SRF Creating Environmental Success — award by the OWRB. Both awards are in recognition of the water reuse system, which is currently under construction.

“The EPA accepts nominations nationally for several annual awards including the ‘Exceptional Project’ category, which is what we have been selected to receive,” Lauritsen said. “The nomination is based on the City’s funding from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and an evaluation of the project’s ability to meet certain criteria. The award we have received for the water reuse project is for ‘Excellence in Problem Solving.'”

The EPA also issues excellence awards for Innovative Financing, System Partnerships, Community Engagement, and Environmental and Public Health Protection. Nationally, 27 state entries were submitted to the EPA for PISCES Award consideration, with only five being selected as “exceptional,” OWRB Marketing & Outreach Manager Tonya White said. White helped coordinate information for the City’s nomination for the EPA award.

“In April, I reached out to Mr. Terry Lauritsen to provide background information, system details and one-on-one communication in understanding the uniqueness of this particular project,” said White. “Terry’s time and input was essential in the development of the 2021 PISCES Nomination Form. Congratulations to you and those involved in the recognition of your forward thinking and creative approach. This national platform will expose other systems to solutions which may not have been previously considered.”

The water reuse system involves the construction/installation of infrastructure that will consist of a pump station at the wastewater treatment plant and an underground pipeline transporting the water to the Caney River just south of the County Road West 1500 bridge. This will allow the City to utilize treated wastewater to augment the yield of the Caney River during periods of drought.

“We will pump treated wastewater approximately seven miles upstream of the Caney River Raw Water Intake and allow it to blend with existing river water, then send it to the water treatment plant for further treatment and, from there, to our water customers,” Lauritsen said.

He said the system is vital for the area to guard against drought in the future.

“This system will ensure area water needs are met at least 30 years into the future, with the potential to extend our water resources another 60-70 years, depending on demand,” Lauritsen said.

The project is expected to cost upwards of $8.2 million, including funds already spent on right of way property, a feasibility study and improvements to the Caney River Pump Station. The City has utilized grants and low-interest loans through the OWRB’s State Revolving Fund to pay for the system, which will be repaid with Water Capital Investment Fees.

For more information, see Water Reuse Report January 2022.

Related stories:

Bartlesville wins OWRB ‘Water for 2060 Award’

Council OKs water reuse feasibility report

Caney River Pump Station work to start