Archive for Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Topeka sewage in Kansas River should not affect Lawrence

December 17, 2013


— Topeka's water department is monitoring the Kansas River for E. coli after a weekend sewage spill.

The city of Topeka says the sanitary sewer bypass pumping station went down over the weekend, discharging waste into the river. The Topeka Capital Journal reports most of the sewage spilled into the Kansas River overnight Sunday. It's unclear how much sewage spilled or what caused the failure.

The city's Water Pollution Control Division is monitoring the Kansas River for E. coli concentrations, and will continue to monitor the water until counts show normal levels.

The city says the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, and the Lawrence, Olathe, and WaterOne Utility water treatment plants were notified Monday of the breach.

Jeanette Klamm, a spokeswoman with Lawrence's department of utilities, said operators at the city's Kaw Water Treatment plant were made aware of the sewage spill shortly after it occured. She said the plant has not needed to make any adjustments to its treatment levels, and that Lawrence's water supply remains unaffected by the spill.

"We haven't seen any indications that it has made it this far down the river, nor do we expect it to," Klamm said Tuesday afternoon.

Chad Lawhorn contributed to this story


Ken Lassman 4 years, 4 months ago

Well, we've been drinking Topeka's toilet water for 150 years, so this ain't nothing that we haven't seen before. I suspect our sanitation engineers know how to handle these kinds of things pretty well. I do think that this incident is an opportunity for an ambitious reporter to jump into and educate us all on how we all live downstream, no? Maybe there is a sanitation engineer out there who knows their fluid dynamics or whatever well enough to answer some questions, such as:

1) since the river is currently flowing to the tune of around 650 cubic feet per second, how long would it take for the release of, um....coliform bacteria to get here? Judging from what I'm reading here: continuous water quality sampling stopped in Topeka in 2005, and there is no official USGS site in Lawrence for the Kaw--am I correct? You have to go to DeSoto to find the nearest continuous water quality sampling site. Seems a bit unlikely, but please correct me kf I'm wrong.

2) The Water treatment plant checks coliform count, but looking at the report it looks like there have been some "positive TCR" events where coliform counts have bumped 3000 units--anyone care to explain? Is this from continuous sampling, only recording when coliform counts exceed a certain level, and if so, what measures are taken? Kick in a little extra chlorination? I'm sure whenever a dead deer or cow gets stuck in the river somewhere upstream, things like this happen; just wonder how that is detected and treated.

Leslie Swearingen 4 years, 4 months ago

Thank you Ken for this information. Water is a non-renewable resource and one that we need for survival. We have no choice but to leave it to others to take care of this sort of thing and trust them to do the right thing. Scary if you ask me and the more I learn the scarier it gets.

Beator 4 years, 4 months ago

150 years? Lawrence residents have evolved a resistance to the sewage. Kind of like a flu shot. Drink enough poo water long enough, and you build up a resistance. So to speak.

Ron Holzwarth 4 years, 4 months ago

Topeka is the only city upstream from Lawrence - NOT!

Aimee Polson 4 years, 4 months ago

I have had the opportunity to tour water treatment facilities in both Topeka and in Lawrence and I think that Eudora can sleep a little sounder knowing that we are in between them and Topeka.

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