A proposed sand pit mining operation along the Kansas River near Eudora would pose no threat to underground water supplies, according to an engineering report that Douglas County commissioners requested earlier this year.
Those findings should clear the way for Douglas County commissioners to grant final approval for a conditional use permit for Penny's Concrete and Sand LLC, which currently operates an in-river dredge near that site.
Penny's sought to move that operation off the river and onto the south bank of the river after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers earlier this year declined to renew its permit for operating within the river.
But the city of Eudora, which draws its municipal water supply from wells near the proposed sand pit, as well as the owners of other nearby private wells, objected to the permit, arguing the sand pit could provide an opening for contamination to seep into their water supplies.
In response, county commissioners voted 2-1 in March to grant preliminary approval for the permit, which includes a long list of conditions that Penny's must comply with to prevent contamination, limit noise and protect the nearby river banks.
But commissioners also insisted on an independent "pre-dredging analysis" of the aquifer system around the site to determine whether more conditions would need to be attached.
That report, by the engineering firm Conestoga-Rovers & Associates, was delivered to county officials earlier this month.
"Operation of the proposed aggregate mining operation is not anticipated to have any appreciable or unacceptable effect on the City of Eudora municipal water supply wells, private water supply wells, or the Kansas River," the report said.
Mike Press, Eudora's interim city manager, said he did not know whether the city would continue to challenge the proposed sand pit.
"I have not discussed it with the governing body yet," Press said. "I don't know what their position will be."
Eudora officials had said that if their water supplies do become contaminated, the city would face potentially millions of dollars in new costs to install an additional filtering systems at its treatment plant.
County commissioners are scheduled to consider granting final approval for the permit at their Aug. 28 meeting. Press said the Eudora city commission is not scheduled to meet before then.
The county, however, will not have the final say in whether Penny's is allowed to open an off-river sand pit. Officials have said the company will need to obtain a number of additional permits from various state and federal agencies.
Officials at Penny's did not immediately respond to requests for comment.