Heavy rains kicked the city’s sewer system into overdrive last weekend and put the Kansas River just below flood level, two events that could be repeated if the rain keeps coming down.
Rain has been pumping millions of extra gallons of water into the city’s sewer system, said Jeanette Klamm, city utility spokeswoman.
“The sewer system is not completely airtight,” she said.
Typically, about 9 million gallons of water are pumped into the wastewater treatment plant, 1400 E. Eighth St., each day, Klamm said. With the ground saturation and heavy rain, 52 million gallons of water flowed in on Monday, forcing the plant to enact its excess flow treatment system, which prevents raw sewage from being pumped into the Kansas River.
While city officials don’t consider it an emergency situation, Klamm said utility workers are working around the clock to make sure the extra material goes where it’s supposed to.
“We’re a little bit more vigilant,” Klamm said. “We monitor things a little bit more.”
Meanwhile, Douglas County Emergency Management has been monitoring flooding conditions since the weekend, said Teri Smith, emergency management director.
On Wednesday, the amount of water in the Kansas River in Lawrence measured about 13 feet deep, compared with 15 feet on Tuesday and about 18 feet — just under the flood stage — Monday night, Smith said.
While the river level has been dropping since the first round of showers last weekend, Smith said, officials are keeping an eye on it, and additional rain is forecast in the area. Emergency management officials have been measuring the Kansas River between one and four times each day. “We start monitoring the river level a little bit more, so that we can notify all the agencies that it might impact,” she said.
The city’s Parks and Recreation Department reacted to the high flooding conditions by closing Riverfront Park, to protect visitors. The high river levels have caused the park to become flooded at times.