ULYSSES — City officials faced with fixing a leaky wastewater lagoon are considering restoring a dried up lake in Frazier Park to handle treated water.
Treated water in this southwest Kansas town currently is used for irrigation or put in lagoons north of town, where the water usually evaporates. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment, however, has told the city to do something about a leaky lagoon.
As a result, city officials are considering creating a 15-acre fishing pond with the water. The city doesn't have a lake, and proponents say the proposed one might draw people from around the region to Frazier Park.
"We feel it has potential to be something very good for the community, something that could create recreational opportunities," Mayor Ed Wiltse said.
The KDHE has approved a plan to reinforce the liner in the city's lagoons, but city leaders are awaiting a response to the lake proposal, which was submitted in August. Both proposals are expected to cost between $500,000 and $600,000.
Jeff Kreie, Ulysses park superintendent, said the lake in Frazier Park disappeared about 20 years ago because of the accumulation of silt, dry weather and the closure of the old wastewater treatment plant.
Treated water from that plant had been put in the lake until it was replaced in 1983.
Sunflowers and weeds, some up to 6-feet high, currently inhabit the lake bed.
Ulysses residents seemed to have adjusted to the idea that the lake would be made of the 749,000 gallons of water flushed down the toilets and washed down the drains of the city's homes and businesses each day.
"They understand it'll be clean," said Joline Heckman, a project champion.
"We just want to enhance (the park) by creating a lake," Heckman said. "The neatest thing (about the idea) is just the ability to go fishing."
Pathogens would be eliminated from the wastewater before going into the lake, said Dennis Haag, an environmental scientist in Lenexa with Tetra Tech EM, an engineering firm that has been advising the city.
Communities have been forming wetlands and lakes from wastewater since the 1970s, but Haag called the idea "fairly unique" to Kansas.