Area newspaper and television reports about the Kansas River. Click on link on top of story to go to original article.
Kansas River in the News
City officials working to pinpoint cause of odd odor, taste in drinking water; safety not a concern, they say
By Chad Lawhorn
June 11, 2012
Officials at the city’s two water treatment plants are running tests today to determine what is causing odd taste and odor issues with the city’s drinking water, but are confident the water remains safe to consume.
“It is an aesthetics issue,” said Jeanette Klamm, a spokeswoman with the city’s Utilities Department. “There aren’t any health issues related to the taste and odor.”
Klamm said the city had received at least 20 calls about the taste and odor issues by early Monday morning. She said plant operators began noticing the issue during the weekend.
City leaders already have a suspicion about what is causing the “earthy and musty” tastes and odors — algae. Now, they just have to figure out what type of algae.
Klamm said plant operators believe they’re dealing with geosmin, which is a by-product of dead algae that accumulate at Clinton Lake and sometimes in the Kansas River. The city’s water plants have experienced high levels of geosmin on an almost annual basis during the last several years. But usually, geosmin outbreaks occur in August when the heat of the summer has killed large amounts of algae at once.
Klamm said the city may receive test results as soon as this afternoon.
As for when the water may begin tasting better, that may be another day or so. Klamm said plant operators currently are reporting the taste and odor issues are on the decline at the two treatment plants.
“But that won’t necessarily help the public today because our systems are full of older water,” Klamm said. “We have to use the existing water before the public will start to notice an improvement.”
City officials don’t believe they are dealing with an algae outbreak of the same nature that caused the Kaw Water Treatment Plant to temporarily close last summer. In August, the Kansas River had high levels of blue-green algae that came from upstream reservoirs, including Milford and Tuttle Creek.
The issues associated with blue-green algae are less understood by water plant professionals than the geosmin outbreaks. Some studies have concluded exposure to water with blue-green algae can cause health problems for humans and especially pets.
Last year, the city’s treatment plant was found to have successfully filtered out the blue-green algae from the drinking water, but as a precaution officials shut the plant down during the height of the outbreak.
Although city officials don’t think blue-green algae is to blame for this week’s taste and odor issues, they are preparing for a similar outbreak in the future. At Tuesday’s city commission meeting, commissioners will consider approving $40,150 for Lawrence to participate in a study of Kansas River water.
The study will be led by the Kansas Water Office and will include the cities of Topeka and Olathe and Water District No. 1 of Johnson County.
Already the Kansas Department of Health and Environment has issued eight advisories related to blue-green algae levels and one warning for Kansas lakes. So far, neither Clinton Lake nor any of the lakes directly upstream from Lawrence’s Kaw Water Treatment Plant has been included in the warnings or advisories.
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June 7, 2012
The Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday announced it has approved Kansas’ list of 1,330 “impaired waters,” which represents a decrease from two years ago.
KDHE submitted its impaired waters list to EPA for review and approval as required by the Clean Water Act. The act requires EPA to review the state’s list of impaired waters to determine if the state reasonably considered available water quality-related data, and identifies waters to be listed.“KDHE (Kansas Department of Health and Environment) should be commended for the progress that has been made to improve Kansas lakes and streams,” said Karl Brooks, EPA regional administrator.
A water body is placed on the impaired waters list when monitoring finds that pollution levels prevent the lake, river, or stream from attaining its beneficial uses. In Kansas, beneficial uses include human recreation, agricultural water supply, and maintaining healthy aquatic life.
EPA has approved Kansas’ list of impaired waters, which removes 561 waters from the previous impaired waters list and adds 121 waters.
One of those de-listed is Perry Lake because a plan is in action to address concerns with the waters, EPA officials said.
“The state of Kansas is pretty darn good at addressing impaired waters,” said John DeLashmit, chief of the water quality management branch at the regional EPA.
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By Chad Lawhorn: — Lawrence Journal-World
March 11, 2012
Construction has begun on a $600,000 project to improve the reliability of the city’s Kaw Water Treatment plant, and planning is under way for a $7 million project that will involve trying to figure out the shifting sands of the Kansas River.
The city has shut down the Kaw Water Treatment Plant, Third and Indiana streets, for the month of March while crews replace several critical valves that are more than 50 years old.
“Because of their age, the valves don’t close all the way,” said Jeanette Klamm, a programs manager with the city’s Utilities Department. “If we ever had to isolate the plant for some reason, we couldn’t do that without some people who live near the plant being out of water.”
Crews are installing 36-inch valves and new piping in the front yard area of the plant. During the project, all of the city’s water is being supplied by the Clinton Water Treatment Plant in West Lawrence.
During the project, traffic on portions of Third and Indiana streets may be affected. The city’s bulk water station, where customers can pay to fill large, portable tanks, is closed for the month. The project is expected to be completed in early April.
But there is plenty of additional water plant work that will stretch throughout 2012 and into 2013. Utilities Director Dave Wagner said the city has begun working with Black & Veatch engineers to design a solution to a malfunctioning Kansas River intake that forced city officials to essentially shut down the plant several times over the last year.
Figuring out a solution for that problem will be complicated because it involves trying to predict how the sands of the Kansas River will settle.
“It is going to be a pretty significant effort,” Wagner said.
The Kaw River plant is designed to operate with two intake pipes in the Kansas River. One of the intakes has long been inoperable, and over the last several years sand has periodically clogged the lone remaining intake.
The city’s utility rate plan has about $7 million in its budget to build a new intake and hopefully improve the existing intake to the point that it can be used as a backup.
But first, engineers have to better understand the shifting sands of the Kansas River. That can be difficult enough in ordinary times, but Wagner said the construction of the new Kansas Turnpike bridges upstream of the plant have changed the dynamics of the river.
Following the construction of the bridges, for example, a large sandbar has emerged near Kansas University’s boathouse in Burcham Park.
“It is there now,” Wagner said. “Whether it stays there or not is one of the things we’ll try to figure out.”
The sandbar, though, is one of the few changes visible to the naked eye. Equally significant changes are happening on the bottom of the river. Wagner said contractors for Black & Veatch will be on boats in the river using electronic equipment to map the bottom of the river and measuring the velocity of the river’s flow.
In addition, engineers will have to predict the impact changes to the Bowersock Dam, which is just downstream of the plant, will have on the river. Plans call for an inflatable “rubber dam” to be installed on top of the existing dam. That will allow for higher water levels upstream of the dam, which will change the river’s sedimentation pattern.
Understanding the changing sedimentation patterns of the river will be important in determining what type of improvements are needed to make the river intakes work properly, Wagner said.
Wagner said he expects to start getting results from the study in the fall, but construction on a new intake likely would not begin until 2013.
Wagner said if problems with the intake do cause the Kaw plant to be shut down again, the city’s Clinton Water Treatment Plant is in a good position to serve the entire city.
“The Clinton plant can keep up with high demand,” Wagner said. “But it can’t keep up with a super summer peak that happens maybe once every five or 10 years.
“We feel like we have the Kaw intake reliable and cleaned out, but it is not in the condition we would like to operate under.”
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Posted: Jan 26, 2012 6:47 PM CSTUpdated: Jan 26, 2012 6:54 PM CST
By Laura McCallister, Multimedia Producer
By Stephen Mayer, Multimedia Journalist
KANSAS CITY, KS (KCTV) -
Thursday, crews from the Wyandotte County Sheriff's and Fire Departments along with a private towing service began pulling nearly a dozen cars and SUVs from the Kansas River.
Using thick steel cables and a massive crane, crews got to work pulling 11 vehicles from the river.
"The river level's low and the weather's pretty decent. The sheriff felt it was time to cleanup these vehicles," said Lt. Kelli Bailiff with the Wyandotte County Sheriff's Department.
The area is known to be an eyesore when it comes to dumped cars, many of which are believed to be stolen so crews decided to put a major dent in the problem. Working as a team, dive teams with the fire department attached heavy duty cables to sunken cars, then crews with Independence Tow did the rest.
Next, sheriff's deputies stepped in as they began calling in license plate numbers in an effort to learn more about the vehicles. Eventually, the SUVs pulled out of the river will be taken to impound where detectives will search for any clues left behind.
"I have no idea what we will find. I hope there is some evidence –tools from crimes we're hoping to solve, some crimes from multiple agencies,"said Bailiff.
Bailiff said the best thing about this operation is it won't be an added expense to taxpayers. Independence Tow is offering their services free of charge and the fire department is turning it into a learning experience.
"The fire department, that's apart of their job, but they're also using this as a training exercise in order to rescue vehicles out of the water. It's a dual purpose for all of them," she said.
Bailiff said Thursday's work will go a long way in cleaning up the Kansas River, but knows it may never be a done deal.
The area is so notorious for being a stolen car dumping ground that crews will be at it again Friday as they pull more cars from the river.
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By Corey Jones
November 25, 2011 - 08:12pm
Ryan Moore by no means was a novice kayaker.
He and David Greene had paddled on Lake Superior, the Gulf Coast and many other rivers.
Still, the 36-year-old Lawrence doctor drowned on the Kansas River in July when his kayak became ensnared in what is known as a keeper hydraulic, a water flow that recirculates objects that get caught in it.
“That current is what’s called a drowning machine,” Greene said.
Such a situation is created by a low-head dam, just like the one used by Topeka’s water treatment facility. Many similar dams exist across the country.
Greene is helping lead a charge with the Friends of the Kaw River to turn the dam into a low-grade rapids to alleviate the dangers, as other cities have done, and allow that portion of the river to become more recreational friendly.
“We aren’t looking to lay blame,” he said. “We’re just trying to prevent another death from another individual that could certainly happen.”
Two people in August 2007 also drowned when the canoe they were in capsized after it went over the spillway at the south end of the weir.
Braxton Copley, director of the office of utilities and transportation for Topeka, said the deaths were tragedies.
The city is open to further improvements to enhance safety, he said, beyond the installation of the two portage ramps in 2010 on the river’s north banks that accompanied the installation of signs to alert oncoming paddlers.
Copley said he has written into the 2012 Capital Improvement Budget a request for a $25,000 project.
The dollars would come from grants, operating funds and private donations to “do a study of the weir,” he said, “and provide design options for improvements to reduce the downstream hydraulic.”
The decision to approve such a project and funding methods would be left to the Topeka City Council.
The Friends of the Kaw pitched the idea in October at a meeting of the Topeka-Shawnee County Riverfront Authority.
Mike Calwell, a longtime member of the Kaw group, estimated the cost of filling the dam with boulders to create the rapids would be less than $250,000.
Calwell told those in attendance the rapids could be designed to be rated Class 2, which means anything — including rafts, canoes and inner tubes — could safely and easily navigate the feature.
Greene, who has navigated the Kaw several times, said paddling to the portage ramps to bypass the water weir is doable, though certain conditions can make the action more difficult.
He said most kayakers avoid the first sandbar island group on the river’s north side because an old 1930s dam remains in the area, which prevents kayakers from paddling up that side of the river to the boat ramps.
Instead, they travel to the south side of the river toward the mouth of the dam in a curve-like fashion, Greene said, and then navigate north to the ramps.
However, in some instances the level of the water is up and the current is stronger, he said.
“If you mis-paddle or anything along that line, you could end up having a bad outcome as my friend Ryan did,” Greene said.
He also points to another hazard, particularly as a person approaches the dam because the water’s rate of speed increases the closer it gets to where it drops off the weir.
“You can’t see that drop-off coming up ahead from the level of a kayake,” Greene said.
Moore, a 36-year-old doctor living in Lawrence, died in July in a drowning accident at the low-head dam. He had been kayaking the river.
Ellen Guthrie, aquatics director for the Jayhawk Area Council, said any river is inherently dangerous. Even farm ponds pose risks, which is why caution and safety practices are paramount when in and around water.
In her work with the Boy Scouts since the late 1990s, Guthrie has come to learn there are “really strong feelings about the Kansas River.”
Many folks have told her they refuse to boat the Kaw, while many others frequently have used it and reported having wonderful experiences.
Guthrie said she has yet to paddle the Kaw, but taking a trip down the river is something she wants to do.
She just can’t convince some of the people she knows to join her.
“People tend to have a definite feeling about it one way or another,” Guthrie said
The Kansas River is known to have shifting sandbars and other potential unknowns, but Guthrie said she didn’t consider those to be reasons to stay off the water.
“Sometimes the fun of canoeing is what you’re going to come across,” she said.
As for turning the water weir into a beginners rapids, Guthrie said she thinks it would be a good idea to develop more recreational activities with the river.
“That could be such a nifty feature,” she said.
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Posted: October 8, 2011 - 10:20am
By The Associated Press
KANOPOLIS, Kan. — State wildlife officials say zebra mussels have now been found in a 14th Kansas lake.
KWCH-TV reports an adult zebra mussel turned up in a stilling basin at Kanopolis Reservoir, with mussel larvae found in the lake itself. The reservoir and state park are located in central Kansas, about 30 miles southwest of Salina.
The invasive zebra mussels are not native to Kansas. They can multiple quickly, clogging water lines and intakes and crowding out native species.
The mussels typically spread between lakes by attaching to boats. The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism has cautioned boaters and lake users to inspect, clean and drain boats and other equipment before leaving a lake.
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