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LJWorld Dredging Letter

posted Mar 1, 2011, 5:23 PM by Dr. Cynthia Annett


Dredging issue

By Laura Calwell, Friends of the Kaw

March 1, 2011

To the editor:

Kaw Valley Companies has applied for a permit to open an off-river sand pit mine near Eudora, and public comments on the proposal are due to the Army Corps of Engineers and KDHE by March 9. (Another permit for the same project is currently delayed for 90 days before the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission.)

Friends of the Kaw (FOK) commends Kaw Valley Companies for considering an off-river pit mine as an alternative to the highly destructive practice of in-river sand dredging. Our economy needs affordable sand, and FOK is happy to work with companies on appropriate environmental siting for pit mines.

However, we have concerns about this location. The site is on a river bend with active erosion and the Corps has already spent a great deal of money constructing wing dikes. The sand excavation pit would cause major damage to riparian forest, a problem for both bank erosion and wildlife habitat.

More information on the permit and submitting comments is available at www.kansasriver.org/stopdredging.

Original article: http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2011/mar/01/dredging-issue/?opinion

Sand Pit Mine Delayed

posted Feb 24, 2011, 11:35 AM by Dr. Cynthia Annett   [ updated Feb 24, 2011, 11:43 AM ]

Town Talk: sand pit near Eudora gets delayed

By Chad Lawhorn Lawrence Journal-World

February 24, 2011

It certainly was a sand through the hourglass type of event Wednesday night at the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission. Planners for three and a half hours debated a proposal to allow a sand pit operation on about 195 acres at 2102 N. 1500 Road, which is the site of an old golf course just north of Eudora. After nearly four hours of debate, Lawrence-Douglas County planning commissioners did what they sometimes do with tough issues: They deferred it. They’ll go through the exercise again in another 60 to 90 days. Yes, like sand through an hourglass, these are the days of my life.

The issue does appear to be a ticklish one, though. The proposed site is in a critical area for two pieces of important infrastructure. Right near the site are the water wells that the city of Eudora uses to supply its approximately 6,000 residents. Near the site also is Eudora’s Kaw River bridge, a key crossing for all of eastern Douglas County. City of Eudora planners are concerned that the sand pit operations may damage both pieces of infrastructure.

There’s concern that all the digging required to do sand pit mining may damage the water table that supplies the city of Eudora’s wells. A study commissioned by the applicant — Kaw Valley Companies — found the operations won’t affect the well field. A study commissioned by the city of Eudora was inconclusive. That concerned planners.

Also, the city of Eudora expressed concern that all the digging could cause the river to shift course in a way that would threaten the abutments to the nearby Kansas River bridge. Kaw Valley representatives noted the Corps of Engineers will study that possibility during its permitting process for the plant. That process hasn’t yet begun.

Probably one of the more interesting parts of the meeting was listening to people talk about what happened in 1993 when a 100-year flood hit the area. Longtime farmer John Pendleton told the commission how he lost 20 acres of ground pretty much in a single day because the river decided to shift course.

The Eudora Planning Commission met in joint session with the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission, since the site is less than a half-mile outside the Eudora city limits. The Eudora Planning Commission unanimously voted to recommend denial of the project. Its recommendation will be forwarded to the Douglas County Commission, which will make the final decision on the project.

But that won’t happen until Lawrence-Douglas County planning commissioners make their recommendation. Some planning commissioners noted there’s a real balancing act here. There are all the above concerns, but there’s also the fact that sand is important. It is a key component in a lot of construction and manufacturing processes. Many existing sand quarrying operations are starting to run out of material, and there’s more and more pressure to no longer dredge the Kansas River for sand. It seems Douglas County has good potential for the sand pit type of operations. This is the second request in a year for a sand pit. The other one — which was near Midland Junction north of North Lawrence — was rejected for a whole other set of reasons.

“We find reasons to say no to these requests,” said Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commissioner Brad Finkeldei. “But I think we do ultimately need to find a place where this will work.”

go to original story in Lawrence Journal World

Town Talk: Sand pit operation proposed for site near Perry-Lecompton; Hy-Vee plans for new convenience store on Clinton Parkway up for approval; permit for rural firing range in the crosshairs

posted Jan 7, 2011, 12:01 PM by Ramandeep Dulku

By Chad Lawhorn
September 22, 2011

News and notes from around town:

• Sand is big business around these parts. This part of the state isn’t rich with oil or natural gas, but when it comes to things below the ground, we are pretty rich in the category of sand. But local leaders have had a hard time figuring out how to let companies mine that sand. If you remember, county leaders have rejected two sand pit mining operations in the last year or so. One was on property near the Midland Junction north of Lawrence, and the other was on property just north of Eudora. Well, it looks like at least one company has gotten the message. Midwest Concrete Materials, which operates a concrete plant on East 23rd Street, has filed paperwork to open a sand pit operation near the Kansas River — in Jefferson County. The company has filed for a conditional-use permit on 296 acres that is just east of the Kansas River bridge, across the river from Lecompton. The request is for a sand pit operation, rather than a sand dredging operation that extends out into the Kansas River, said Duane Buscher, a planner with the Jefferson County Planning Department. Sand dredging operations are very difficult to get approved these days because of concerns about the impact dredging has on the river. And sand pit operations have been problematic to get approved in Douglas County. The one near the airport — which was sought by Midwest Concrete Materials — drew opposition from neighbors who were concerned about the loss of prime farmland and about truck traffic. It will be interesting to see whether folks in Jefferson County have any of those same concerns or whether they will be excited about having a new business in the area. It also will be interesting to see what impact the sand operation has on Douglas County. The bulk of the trucks leaving the facility are expected to be going to Midwest’s concrete plant, which is east of Lawrence, across the highway from the East Hills Business Park. No word yet on how many trucks that will be or what route they will take, although I assume they would go through Lecompton and get on the South Lawrence Trafficway. (I wonder if they’ve heard it is not done yet.) The truck traffic may create heartburn for some, but I chatted briefly with Douglas County Public Works Director Keith Browning, who was keeping the news in perspective. He said he was looking into the plant proposal in more detail, but said sometimes such plants don’t produce as much traffic as people assume. We’ll see what the reaction is. I have a call into Midwest Concrete Materials, but haven't heard back from them yet. The proposal currently is in the staff review phase in Jefferson County. Now word yet on when it will be presented to county commissioners up north. Until then, all I know about sand is that it is big business in my household too. During the summer you can find my wife lounging on it, usually with a $12 margarita. If you don’t think that is big business, you haven’t seen my wife drink margaritas.

• As we have previously reported, Hy-Vee has plans to build a new gasoline station/convenience store/car wash near the southwest corner of Clinton Parkway and Crossgate Drive. That project is set to go through a major step on Monday. Lawrence-Douglas County Planning commissioners will consider the necessary rezoning and special permits needed to allow the project. City commissioners then would consider it for final approval in the next couple of weeks. The plans call for a 2,800-square-foot convenience store, eight gasoline pump islands, a four-bay car wash and a separate lot for a future office building. Planning staff members are recommending approval of the development, but have brought up one traffic concern. The project is proposing that a new driveway be created off Crossgate that would allow motorists to turn directly into the gasoline station. Staff members note that the new driveway would be very close to the intersection of Clinton Parkway and Crossgate, which could create congestion concerns. (The new driveway would be about 200 feet away.) The site also is served by West 24th Place, which runs along the south edge of the development. Staff members would prefer all traffic to the development use that smaller road. People who like to sell lots of gas, though, have another preference. Planning commissioners will meet at 6:30 p.m. Monday at Lawrence City Hall.

• Also up for approval at Monday’s meeting is a conditional-use permit to allow the existing Fraternal Order of Police firing range to continue in operation at 768 E. 661 Diagonal Road in rural Douglas County. This has been a project that has been drawing comments and concerns for months. Some neighbors of the site have objected to the range, which has been in existence for decades. Planners determined the site needed a conditional-use permit to exist, and now discussion is centering on issues related to noise, hours of operation, and whether the lead from spent bullets has the potential to contaminate ground water in the area. Staff members are recommending approval of the site, but with several conditions. They include: No shooting after 8 p.m. on most nights, although three nighttime shooting events a year can be allowed; lead will be reclaimed from the soil every seven years or 100,000 rounds; lodge officials will propose ways to mitigate how much sound from the firing range spills over to adjacent properties. Ultimately, Douglas County Commissioners will have the final say on whether the firing range receives the necessary permit. The hearing at the county commission level likely will happen in a few weeks, if the project wins planning commissioners' approval on Monday.

Link to The Original Website:


KCMO Sewer Project

posted May 27, 2010, 3:12 PM by Laura Calwell   [ updated May 27, 2010, 3:13 PM ]

U.S. vs. The City of Kansas City, Missouri - Consent Decree - Clean Water Act 

On May 18, 2010, the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lodged a consent decree in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, against the City of Kansas City, Mo. The consent decree requires the city to implement an Overflow Control Plan for its municipal sewer system to address longstanding violations of the federal Clean Water Act. The plan is designed to yield significant long-term benefits to public health and the environment, and provide a model for the incorporation of green infrastructure and technology toward solving overflow issues. 

The consent decree requires the City of Kansas City to spend an estimated $2.5 billion over a 25-year work schedule on repairs, modifications and new construction to rebuild its sewer system. When completed, the sanitary sewer system will have adequate infrastructure to capture and convey combined stormwater and sewage to the city's treatment plants. This is expected to keep billions of gallons of untreated sewage from reaching surface waters. 

As part of the agreement, Kansas City must also spend $1.6 million on a supplemental environment project to implement a voluntary sewer connection and septic tank closure program for income-eligible residential property owners who elect to close their septic tanks and connect to the public sewer. Additionally, the consent decree requires the city to pay a civil penalty of $600,000 to the United States. 

The consent decree is subject to a 30-day public comment period and approval by the federal court. More information 

Why does this concern Friends of the Kaw? 

· The largest Kansas City, Missouri (KCMO) Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) discharges to the lower Kaw (Kansas River) and very little will be done to address this until 2034 – at the present time KCMO estimates that raw sewage is discharged to the Kaw an average of 36 times per year. Once all the improvements are made (projected for 2034) KCMO estimate that they will still discharge raw sewage to the Kaw but only 7 times per year. 

· Kansas Department of Health & Environment (KDHE) has been consulted and made comments but has no recourse or say once this plan is approved. 

· While we applaud this action in principle we believe that EPA and KCMO have not taken into consideration that public recreation on the lower Kansas River has greatly increased with the addition of a ramp at Kaw Point in 2003. Many fishing boats use this access on a daily basis. The Missouri 340 – with over 500 yearly participants and other paddling races either start or finish at Kaw Point on the lower Kaw. Missouri River Relief in partnership with Friends of the Kaw organizes a clean up of the Missouri River and the lower Kaw headquartered at Kaw Point every other year. In 2009 over 400 participated in this event and were physically picking up trash on the banks of both the Kaw and the Missouri. 

· As many folks as possible need to make public comment to get the Justice Departments attention. Please copy and sign (include your address and phone #) the letter on the next page and send it in before June 18, 2010. Include your own comments or visit our web site at www.kansasriver.org to make comments electronically. THANK YOU! 


U.S. Department of Justice 

Environment and Natural Resources Division 

ATTN: Public Comment on Consent Decrees 

950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW 

Washington, D.C. 20530-0001 

RE: Kansas City, Mo., Consent Decree - Clean Water Act 

While I am thankful that Kansas City, Missouri (KCMO) is beginning to solve their long standing Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) problems, I am very disappointed the largest KCMO CSO discharge, from the Turkey Creek/ CID Combined Sanitary Sewer Basin (TC CSO), to the Kansas River will take yet another 25 years to be almost fully addressed - unfortunately it will never be fully addressed. At the present time KCMO estimates that there are on average 36 CSO discharges per year to the Kansas River containing raw sewage and at the completion of the planned activities in 2035 they will reduce the CSO discharges to the Kansas River containing raw sewage to an average of 7 per year. While some action will be taken in the near future the most important solutions are 10 to 25 years away. 

I believe that neither EPA or KCMO have taken into consideration the considerable increase in recreation to the lower Kansas River since an access ramp was built at river mile .1 at Kaw Point Park in Kansas City, Kansas on the Kansas River in 2003. Many fishing boats use this access on a daily basis. The Missouri 340 Race that occurs annually and in 2009 had over 500 participants – in 2009 the start of the race was during a rain event so the many participants were in canoes and kayaks on the lower Kansas River when the water quality was being impaired from the TC CSO. Several other paddling races annually either start or finish at Kaw Point on the lower Kansas River. Missouri River Relief in partnership with Friends of the Kaw organizes a clean up of the Missouri River and the lower Kansas River headquartered at Kaw Point every other year. In 2009 over 400 volunteers participated in this event and were physically picking up trash on the banks of both the Kansas and the Missouri affected by the TC CSO. A portage path was recently completed around the WaterOne of Johnson County’s new coffer dam so paddlers from Edwardsville can easily access the lower Kaw and a new access ramp at the Turner Bridge is in the final planning stage. Recreational access to the lower Kaw has and will continue to increase and we request that the Consent Decree schedule of compliance should be shortened to a minimum of twelve years for the entire project. 

The State of Kansas while consulted in this process has no authority in the consent decree to enforce the water quality standards and impairments to the waters of the lower Kansas River caused by the TC CSO nor do they have any redress if the schedule of compliance is lenghtened. KCMO will tragically never be in full compliance with the Clean Water Act and both the lower Kansas River and the Missouiri River below the confluence with the Kansas River will never be considered fishable and swimmable. 


May 26th Wakarusa Wetlands Protest

posted May 26, 2010, 7:12 AM by Dr. Cynthia Annett

The Unconscionable, 
Wetland and Wildlife Destruction on 31st Street

Wednesday, May 26, 2010 from 3-6pm

See below for location and parking suggestion.

Mr. Perkins, Operations Director for Douglas County Highway Department, confirmed that a beaver dam has been removed from the southeast end of the Haskell portion of the wetlands beside 31st Street. He ordered the dam to be destroyed, he says, in order to insure that 31st Street would not flood if we got more rain. In actuality this beaver work was well below the street level. Water regularly goes over the top when it rains.

All three county commissioners have been notified. None were apparently aware of any wetland drainage project. 

Haskell WPO students have been working on a nature trail and eco-walk on that side of the highway for months and have a small grant and donated materials promised to complete the project, which is now essentially dead. Also killed are untold hundreds of amphibians, fish, nesting birds whose young  are now exposed to predators, and wetland animals who have suddenly become homeless and are being flattened as they try to cross the road. 

Haskell students photographed almost 100 road kills on 31st before rush hour began. 

Please join a protest from 3:00 to 6:00 pm this afternoon along 31st Street, and pass this on to anyone who may want to join in. There is repair work going on along that section through the wetlands, so it is one lane today and probably tomorrow as well. Parking at Broken Arrow Park may be the best bet. 

Lawrence Sustainability Network

Supports the Preservation of the Wakarusa Wetlands

Kansas River Inventory Data Now Available

posted May 24, 2010, 4:07 PM by Dr. Cynthia Annett

Check out our new Kansas River Inventory Technical Users website! We are working hard to make the data from our River Inventory publicly available and ready for your use. 

Halted housing construction causing water pollution

posted May 15, 2010, 1:29 PM by Laura Calwell

Go to Lawrence Journal World Article

Archive for Saturday, May 1, 2010

Halted housing construction filling U.S.waterways with silt

By Page Ivey - Associated Press Writer

May 1, 2010

INDIAN LAND, S.C. — Residents in a subdivision of two-story brick homes near the North Carolina state line say they were promised roads and ball fields and tennis courts. But the developer has vanished and the neighbors never came so, when the rains do, the ground crumbles.

The potholes at Edenmoor are big enough to swallow car tires these days. With every deluge, miniature Grand Canyons carve through the red clay of the abandoned home sites, clogging a nearby stream with dirt and adding to a growing environmental problem.

The housing bust that has pockmarked the nation’s landscape with half-built construction projects has done more than crash home values. Federal officials and environmentalists says abandoned developments are polluting nearby waterways with sediment, endangering fish and plant life and flooding areas where the silt has built up.

A large chasm is shown at the Edenmoor development in Indian Land, S.C., in this April 9 photo. Environmentalists say the housing and construction bust that has pockmarked the nation’s landscape with half-built projects is filling rivers and streams with one of the most expensive forms of water pollution: sediment.

Chuck Burton/AP Photo

A large chasm is shown at the Edenmoor development in Indian Land, S.C., in this April 9 photo. Environmentalists say the housing and construction bust that has pockmarked the nation’s landscape with half-built projects is filling rivers and streams with one of the most expensive forms of water pollution: sediment.

“We have some that are still not being taken over by anybody or they’re in limbo or they’re in litigation and they’re just sitting there, bleeding sediment into the state’s waters,” said Mell Nevils, director of the Division of Land Resources in North Carolina. He estimates that 40 halted and abandoned projects are polluting waterways in the state.

In April, the Environmental Protection Agency settled with one of the nation’s largest homebuilders for sediment runoff at almost 600 sites in 18 states and the District of Columbia. Hovnanian Enterprises agreed to pay $1 million and take steps to prevent runoff. The EPA, which monitors runoff as part of its enforcement of the Clean Water Act, said the agreement is expected to prevent the runoff of 366 million pounds of sediment nationwide.

Erosion experts say a construction site will lose about 200 tons of sediment per acre per year compared with just five to seven tons per acre per year for a farm.

The EPA considers sediment the leading — and most costly to fix — cause of water pollution. Projects abandoned by their owners, also known as orphan sites, are tougher to penalize because nobody takes responsibility.

“Storm water is one of those chronic, almost invisible problems throughout the nation, throughout the developed world in general, because no one really thinks about rain as being a source of pollution,” said Janelle Robbins, staff scientist with the Waterkeeper Alliance, an international coalition of waterway advocates. “I have seen some horrific construction storm water sites from active sites ... the housing bubble bursting has just exacerbated an already really bad situation.”

North Carolina-based Muddy Water Watch estimates that sediment pollution causes $16 billion in environmental damage in the U.S. every year, with about 70 percent of the dirt pollution coming from human activities, such as land clearing for construction, logging and farming.

Save Our Gulf

posted May 13, 2010, 8:41 AM by Laura Calwell   [ updated May 13, 2010, 8:43 AM ]

For continuous Nationwide media reports on the Gulf of Mexico oil crisis go to the Save Our Gulf website developed by the Waterkeeper Alliance click here

Water Allocations

posted May 13, 2010, 7:40 AM by Laura Calwell

Click here to go to original CJOnline article

Comment: The Republican River is a major tributary to the Kansas River

Six: Enforce river compact


May 4, 2010 - 3:11pm

Attorney General Steve Six on Tuesday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to enforce a 2003 decree approving a settlement between Kansas and Nebraska outlining the states' rights to water from the Republican River basin.

According to the filing, Nebraska has violated the compact and failed to take actions to avoid future violations, especially in the inevitable dry periods to come.

"Nebraska has failed to live up to the obligations under the compact, despite assurances given to the Supreme Court and our attempts to resolve this conflict through arbitration," Six said. "Kansas farmers and communities have been deprived of the water they rely upon in the past and will again under Nebraska's current policies. My office will continue this fight until Nebraska complies with our agreement."

Kansas' pleading argues that Nebraska should be held in contempt of court for not obeying the court's 2003 decree adopting the final settlement stipulation; that the court should take action against Nebraska to ensure that Nebraska won't violate the compact again; and that Nebraska should pay damages to Kansas for violations of the decree. Kansas also asks the court to take certain other actions to ensure Nebraska's compliance.

"Our state's actions in this matter are, and always have been, to ensure that we get the water we are due under the compact and settlement," said David Barfield, chief engineer of the Kansas Department of Agriculture's division of water resources, which manages Kansas' interests in interstate water issues, including the Republican River Compact. "We're not trying to be litigious. We just want Nebraska to be fair."

In June, 2009, an arbitrator found Nebraska hadn't adhered to the compact and deprived Kansas of its vital water resources and that Nebraska must take additional action to comply with obligations. That arbitration exhausted Kansas' options under the Republican River Compact's dispute resolution process. The remaining recourse is to ask the Supreme Court to direct Nebraska to comply with the compact.

"Kansas families suffer due to Nebraska's irresponsible actions," Six said. "We believe the Supreme Court will recognize this and direct Nebraska to, finally, live up to its obligations."

Kansas' pleading states that:

— Nebraska has violated a 2003 U.S. Supreme Court decree.

— Nebraska exceeded its compact allocation by 78,960 acre-feet for the years 2005 and 2006, depriving Kansas of its rightful share of the Republican River.

— Nebraska's current plan for achieving compliance is inadequate. Nebraska must face and address the effects of its decades of overdevelopment and needs to make significant reductions in its use.


FOK Honored by KACEE

posted Apr 14, 2010, 6:14 AM by Laura Calwell

Lawrence Journal World

Archive for Sunday, February 28, 2010

Friends of the Kaw gets excellence award

Staff Report

February 28, 2010

Lawrence-based Friends of the Kaw Inc. has been awarded a 2010 Excellence in Conservation and Environmental Education Award.

The awards, given by the Kansas Association for Conservation and Environmental Education, honors state organizations that “exhibit outstanding innovation, leadership and achievement, as well as collaboration and cooperation within the environmental education field.”

Friends of the Kaw Inc. received the Community/ Nonprofit award, and the association commended the group for its interactive Web site tools and involvement with area schools.

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