Richardt Water Plant in Lawrence undergoes complete renovation


A 2017 utility rate increase in the City of Lawrence allowed for the complete renovation of the Richardt Water Treatment Plant.

The Richardt Water Treatment Plant was built in 1958 and was expanded in 1971.

“Part of our Phase 1 of the Water System Improvement Project, which we are able to fund after having our rate situation straightened out in 2017, one of the first projects we launched was a complete preplacement of the Richardt Water Treatment Plant,” Utility Supt. Scott Salsbery said. “This facility had not had any improvement done to it essentially since 1972. It continued to deteriorate and deteriorate, and so when we had an engineering firm, Wessler Engineering, come and do a complete analysis of our water system, that was at the top of the list – to replace that plant.”

The renovated plant can produce 4.3 million gallons of water per day.

“There’s enough water there, in a pinch, we could supply our present average daily demand of 4.1 million gallons a day with that one plant,” Salsbery said. “We could theoretically produce that there with that one plant. Having three plants allows us to balance that demand, so we are not working any one plant too hard. It prolongs the life of the equipment and the pumps and motors, so we try to balance the load. But again, in a pinch, we can meet the demand with that one facility.”

The renovation cost $4.3 million of the $8.5 million Phase 1 improvements. Other improvements included refurbishing the Oaklandon water tower and replacing some water mains.

The Richardt Water Treatment Plant renovation began in October 2017. The city began producing water at the plant in December 2018.

“We are still doing site clean up, demolition of the old structure, and the final step will be getting new pavement,” Salsbery said.

Phase 2 of the Water System Improvement Plan will include structural improvements to Indiana Lake Water Plant and the Fort Harrison Water Plant and, among other projects, rehabilitating an underground storage tank. Phase 2 will cost between $10-$12 million.

“The rate increase was designed to cover the Phase 1 and Phase 2 projects and our ongoing water main replacement program and other capital needs, so there will be no rate increase,” Salsbery said.