To the editor:
As Kansas Riverkeeper for Friends of the Kaw, I would like to respond to the recent article "Water officials lukewarm on Kansas River study" (Jan. 28). Friends of the Kaw is a not-for-profit, grassroots, environmental organization whose mission is to "protect and preserve the Kansas River for present and future generations." We have opposed in-river sand and gravel mining or dredging on the Kansas River since our inception in the early 1990s because of damage to bridges, pipeline crossings, water supply intakes and other man-made structures (which in many cases our taxes pay to repair); degradation of streambed and shoreline; impact on fish and wildlife; and potential adverse effect on water quality by re-suspension of sediment and toxic chemicals.
Because of these concerns, Friends of the Kaw is confident of public support for the Kansas Water Authority to complete the total study proposed by the Kansas Water Office resulting in a recommendation on the future of in-river mining on the Kansas River. While any study does involve state resources, the Kansas Water Office estimated that the process could be done with existing staff and completed in November of 2006.
This study is critical to one of the public's most valuable natural resources, the Kansas River. Let's face it; when approximately 1.8 million tons of sand per year are pulled from the Kansas River, how can anyone believe that this does not affect the streambed and banks and that this degradation is simply from natural occurrence as purported by the Kansas Aggregate Producers Assn.?