To the editor:
The Kansas River faces a new threat: Five private dredging companies are seeking to drastically increase dredging operations from 2.2 million tons to 3.2 million tons, a jump of almost 50 percent. A new study funded by the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks documents how these private dredging operations are causing significant damage to the river, threatening public uses as well as fish habitat.
Friends of the Kaw has recently been briefed on the preliminary research results from Kansas State professors Melinda Daniels and Craig Paukert. The scientists have documented riverbed incision in dredged reaches, which is likely causing excessive bank erosion both upstream and downstream of dredge sites.
• Dredging in a sand bed river like the Kaw deepens and widens the river channel, causing erosion to the riverbanks. This causes a drop in both the water level of the river and the adjacent water table in the floodplain. In turn, this drop has the potential to affect municipal wells and intake pipes for water treatment plants.
• Dredge holes (some measuring 40 feet deep) migrate both up and downstream, sometimes very quickly depending on water flow.
• Fish habitat is significantly different around dredge holes. The impact of migrating dredge holes on tributaries could affect endangered species like the Topeka Shiner.
You have until Friday to email your public comment on the dredging expansion proposals to the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers (firstname.lastname@example.org).