Archive for Friday, July 29, 2011

Lawrence city crews struggling to keep water treatment plant operating as emergency repairs are made

July 29, 2011


You think you’re having a hard time keeping up with your watering chores.

Crews with the city’s water department are struggling to keep one of Lawrence’s two water treatment plants operating as temperatures remain high and dry conditions persist.

The city is undertaking at least $200,000 worth of emergency repairs at the Kaw Water Treatment Plant near Third and Indiana streets.

As previously reported, the aging plant had to be shut down in early June after a key pipe became clogged and the plant was unable to draw water from the Kansas River. On Friday, city officials acknowledged that the plant had to be shut down a second time — about two weeks ago — for the same reasons.

“It is a significant problem, and we don’t know exactly what is causing it,” said Jeanette Klamm, a spokeswoman for the city’s utilities department.

The second shutdown did cause the city to ask some of its larger water users — Kansas University, golf courses and other major irrigators — to voluntarily reduce their water usage until the problem could be resolved. The plant was brought back on line the next day, and normal water production resumed.

Thus far, Klamm said city officials do not think it is likely the problems at the plant will require residential customers to begin curtailing their water usage.

“We don’t anticipate that right now,” Klamm said. “We’re not at that point.”

But water department leaders are plenty concerned.

“It is imperative that we figure out what is going on,” Klamm said.

Sand may be the culprit that is clogging the plant’s main water intake from the Kaw. Klamm said the pump station along the river has large amounts of sand. An outside contractor is scheduled to arrive on Monday to begin pumping the sand from the station. Crews will work around the clock to pump the sand; while crews are working, the Kaw plant will be able to operate only at minimal levels.

The city has set up a temporary pump and created an over-land piping system to allow some water to be pumped into the plant during the time period.

Lawrence has a second, more modern plant that treats water pulled from Clinton Lake. That plant has the ability to provide water to the entire community during normal conditions, but Klamm said it does become strained when water demands are high from people watering their lawns.

The situation at the Kaw plant has been exacerbated by the fact the plant is designed to run with two water intakes. But one of the water intakes has been inoperable for several years. The city’s proposed 2012 budget — scheduled to be approved on Tuesday — includes more than $7 million for that intake to be repaired.

Other problems, though, also are surfacing at the plant. Water plant officials said a key debris screen and a clarifying filter have been badly damaged. Fixing those two parts are included in the $200,000 worth of emergency repairs. Klamm said it will be critical for those pieces to be operational before the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers begins raising the water levels in the Kaw by releasing water held in upstream lakes. When those releases begin, the amount of debris in the river increases significantly.

“That would be a big issue for us to deal with,” Klamm said.


Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 6 years, 10 months ago

Get it fixed. My water comes from Lawrence, although we are on RWD # 6.

John Hamm 6 years, 10 months ago

Even though it's "not necessary" for residential users to curtail usage why in the heck not inform them and give them the chance to if they wish? What is not going on around here anymore?

bickpaul11 6 years, 10 months ago

Fear of mass chaos. It only takes one idiot to hear it wrong and think that the city could run out of water. That person could spread that message and it could be very bad. No need to worry the population unless the situation is extremely dire.

bickpaul11 6 years, 10 months ago

No its all the people who wouldn't be able to make morning coffee, the restaurants not being able to make all the food as needed potentially, and the farmers not being able to water their crops or provide animals drinking water. It's something that effects everyone.

Kent Fisher 6 years, 10 months ago

Jonathan, Would it be possible to print a map of existing water towers in Lawrence and illustrate what area each tower serves? Also, what area does each water treatment plant serve?

nouseforaname 6 years, 10 months ago

Do you know how much it even takes in electricity to run a water or wastewater treatment plant? It costs a pretty penny to keep everything in tip top shape with regards to massive infrastructure systems (like a water distribution/sanitary sewer systems). Sadly, here in America, we basically had a huge push up through the mid-1980s where we built a lot of infrastructure and then patted ourselves on the back and from then on only spent the bare minimum in operations and maintenance to keep it up and running. Hence why our roads, energy grid, bridges, railroad tracks, and piping are all nothing to write home about. I think if the City actually started charging what was necessary to get everything in proper order and be able to fund future projects that come with expansion (assuming that keeps happening) there would be riots in the streets about it.

nut_case 6 years, 10 months ago

Definitely need water....could easily live without a library. Get the plant fixed!

alm77 6 years, 10 months ago

How do I know where my water comes from?

nouseforaname 6 years, 10 months ago

There are two water treatment plants that provide Lawrence with water. One is the Kaw Water Treatment Plant that gets its water from the Kansas (Kaw) River and the other one is the Clinton Water Treatment Plant that gets its water from Clinton Lake. I would say because or these problems at the Kaw plant right now that most of the water in the system is coming from Clinton, but generally the closer you live to a plant the more likely your water comes from there. However, it does get blended in the distribution system.

George_Braziller 6 years, 10 months ago

Rather than sand it's probably Zebra Mussels. They're already documented and established in Kansas.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 10 months ago

"Money pours into the water utility and yet they seem to never be ahead on the general maintenance, repairs, and replacement. I wonder if the auditor needs something to do?"

Perhaps this money is being diverted to other causes such as new development? Which of course may not be paying back the taxpayers.

Water in Lawrence is a money making venture so instead of raising taxes per se water rates can be increased. Water rates are water taxes no matter what.

City Hall is not big on water conservation because water is a large dependable money maker.

"The situation at the Kaw plant has been exacerbated by the fact the plant is designed to run with two water intakes. But one of the water intakes has been inoperable for several years."

Why would the city wait for years to make repairs? Now repairs cost more. Reckless management I suppose.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 10 months ago

Does sand mining create problems for intake and water quality?

1.4 Groundwater

Apart from threatening bridges, sand mining transforms the riverbeds into large and deep pits; as a result, the groundwater table drops leaving the drinking water wells on the embankments of these rivers dry. Bed degradation from instream mining lowers the elevation of streamflow and the floodplain water table which in turn can eliminate water table-dependent woody vegetation in riparian areas, and decrease wetted periods in riparian wetlands. For locations close to the sea, saline water may intrude into the fresh waterbody.

1.5 Water Quality

Instream sand mining activities will have an impact upon the river's water quality. Impacts include increased short-term turbidity at the mining site due to resuspension of sediment, sedimentation due to stockpiling and dumping of excess mining materials and organic particulate matter, and oil spills or leakage from excavation machinery and transportation vehicles.

Increased riverbed and bank erosion increases suspended solids in the water at the excavation site and downstream. Suspended solids may adversely affect water users and aquatic ecosystems. The impact is particularly significant if water users downstream of the site are abstracting water for domestic use. Suspended solids can significantly increase water treatment costs.

1.6 Summary

Impacts of sand mining can be broadly clasified into three categories:

* Physical

  The large-scale extraction of streambed materials, mining and dredging below the existing streambed, and the alteration of channel-bed form and shape leads to several impacts such as erosion of channel bed and banks, increase in channel slope, and change in channel morphology.

These impacts may cause: (1) the undercutting and collapse of river banks, (2) the loss of adjacent land and/or structures, (3) upstream erosion as a result of an increase in channel slope and changes in flow velocity, and (4) downstream erosion due to increased carrying capacity of the stream, downstream changes in patterns of deposition, and changes in channel bed and habitat type.

* Water Quality

  Mining and dredging activities, poorly planned stockpiling and uncontrolled dumping of overburden, and chemical/fuel spills will cause reduced water quality for downstream users, increased cost for downstream water treatment plants and poisoning of aquatic life.

* Ecological

  Mining which leads to the removal of channel substrate, resuspension of streambed sediment, clearance of vegetation, and stockpiling on the streambed, will have ecological impacts. These impacts may have an effect on the direct loss of stream reserve habitat, disturbances of species attached to streambed deposits, reduced light penetration, reduced primary production, and reduced feeding opportunities.

Flap Doodle 6 years, 9 months ago

You are forgetting that attribution thing again, merrill. Where did you steal that copy/pasted text? Plagiarism is killing the planet! Doing that is waaaaaay dumb and irresponsible !!!!!

leftylucky 6 years, 9 months ago

The water treatment plant should have had priority over the( Hill family) Bowersock damn repair. The river was low when the turnpike bridges were rebuilt. Why did this take so long to remedy. The damn repair was supposed to help the water treatment plant. The city should get a percentage of the( hill family)bowersock profits. Why did the city delay such repairs? There were problems after the 93 flood at the treatment plant. Is the delay in repairing congtingent on running a new waterline under the river to North Lawrence through North Lawrence back accross the river near the sewage treatment plant and out to noria road? Does the city own the spillway now being removed for the Hill family project or do the Hills ?

50YearResident 6 years, 9 months ago

I think the Hills have a 100 year lease and under the lease they are responsible for the maintaince of the dam and spillway. However the city has done almost all the dam repairs at the expense of the city under the pretence that it was necessary to maintain the water treatment water inflow system. Talk about a brouther-in-law deal! Now I could be wrong on this because I am relying on my memory. Corrections welcome, if there are any.

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