Unique Tulsa District project has huge impact on water quality
1 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Tulsa District’s Truscott Brine Lake is important to ensuring water quality for agriculture, municipalities, and military installations dependent on water originating from the extremely salty Wichita River. Truscott project staff fabricated this grate as an extra layer of protection from vegetation which could plug up the pump and shut down the pipeline. The grate is checked weekly and any vegetation on the grate is manually removed. (Photo Credit: Stacey Reese) VIEW ORIGINAL
Unique Tulsa District project has huge impact on water quality
2 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Tulsa District’s Truscott Brine Lake is important to ensuring water quality for agriculture, municipalities, and military installations dependent on water originating from the extremely salty Wichita River. The water originates from springs that travel through layers of gypsum and limestone leaving the water with a high salinity level. It is pooled using an inflatable dam at the Bateman Pump Station. From there the salt water is pumped through an underground 22-mile pipeline into Truscott Brine Lake. The lake is completely contained, with no means of discharging water. (Photo Credit: Stacey Reese) VIEW ORIGINAL
Unique Tulsa District project has huge impact on water quality
3 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Richard McCanlies, Truscott engineering technician monitors the pipeline system which moves water from Bateman Pump Station to Truscott Brine Lake via the System Control and Data Acquisition program. The SCADA program continuously monitors the system, notifying the staff immediately if something is out of balance and even shutting the system down if the need arises. (Photo Credit: Stacey Reese) VIEW ORIGINAL

Located on Bluff Creek, a tributary of the North Fork of the Wichita River, the Red River Chloride Control Project was designed to reduce chloride contamination of the Red River to improve water quality along the river below the project.

Agriculture, municipalities, and military installations depend on the project to remove the damaging salt from their water supplies, but this function was in danger when in March 2022 the FY22 Appropriations Omnibus bill included language rejecting the budget request proposal to fund a disposition study of the Arkansas Red River Chloride Control project.

“The Red River Chloride Control Project has had a major impact on the water quality by reducing chloride levels at Lake Kemp,” said Wichita County Water Improvement District No. 2 General Manager, Kyle Miller. “Lake Kemp is our reservoir that stores and supplies 100 percent of the water the WCWID No.2 uses for irrigation in the district. The reduction in chlorides has improved the water quality for irrigation of agricultural crops.”

The Fiscal Year 2023 President's Budget included funding for the Operations & Maintenance of the Red River Chloride Control Project

“Continued operations of the project, which removes chlorides and salt, is critical to the overall water supply for the city, Sheppard Air Force Base and the region” said Russell Schreiber, director of public works for the City of Wichita.

“All of our partners and stakeholders are very reliant on the project to help provide the best quality water for their wide array of customers” said Red River Area Operations Manager, Louis Holstead. “All of their missions would be somewhat compromised without the mission we have with this project.”

The water originates from springs that travel through layers of gypsum and limestone leaving the water with a high salinity level. It is pooled using an inflatable dam at the Bateman Pump Station. From there the salt water is pumped through an underground 22-mile pipeline into Truscott Brine Lake. The lake is completely contained, with no means of discharging water.

“The entire system can be monitored from the project office via the System Control and Data Acquisition program,” said Richard McCanlies, Truscott engineering technician.

The SCADA program continuously monitors the system, notifying the staff immediately if something is out of balance and even shutting the system down if the need arises.

“There is an art to monitoring the system through the program,” said Luke Prichard, assistant lake manager for Waurika Lake. “If there is an issue with the pressure within the system it can cause a line break, spilling water out of the pipeline.”

The pipeline itself is composed of a fiberglass material, which doesn’t corrode as would copper or steel.

The possibility for corrosion of materials plays a major role in the importance of this project. Salts left at high levels can damage pipelines, equipment, and household appliances.

When the lake opened to the public in 1987 the lake saw visitors with boats and jet skis. However, the harsh water corroded the watercraft and public visitation declined over time.

The challenge of the project is to significantly reduce the salinity to make the area’s water usable.

“People think we remove the salt from the water,” said Chad Rainwater, facility operations specialist. “We don’t remove it, we divert it, keeping it from flowing down the river into Lake Kemp.”

Due to the remote location of the project, all maintenance for the pipeline as well as the road that runs along the pipeline is done by Truscott Lake staff. The road maintenance is conducted with native materials found in the area.

Without this diversion, the high salinity levels would impact drinking water, water for irrigation and water for livestock.

Truscott Brine Lake is managed by the Tulsa District Corps of Engineers. The first construction contract on Truscott Brine Dam was awarded on September 27, 1979. The embankment was completed in December 1982.

There are approximately 3,500,000 gallons of salt water per day pumped into the lake. The brine that contaminates the South Fork of the Wichita River contributes approximately 200 tons of chloride pollution daily.