KDHE rescinds stream advisory for Kansas River in Lawrence, still urges caution

photo by: Courtesy of McCarthy Building Companies Inc.

A aerial photo shows the Kansas River Wastewater Treatment Plant, 1400 E. Eighth St., along the Kansas River.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment on Thursday rescinded its stream advisory for the Kansas River near Lawrence.

The advisory was issued Wednesday morning after a faulty pump at the wastewater plant near the Bowersock Dam allowed a wastewater discharge into the river of an estimated 815,000 gallons.

KDHE said recent heavy rainfall — Lawrence received nearly 4 inches of rain in a 28-hour period — has elevated the streamflow in the river such that the volume of wastewater discharged “has been dwarfed by the current runoff.”

KDHE advised continued caution, however, for people and pets going near the river.

“While the bypass of wastewater has been corrected, the current runoff in the river presents safety issues for those entering the stream,” KDHE said in a news release Thursday. “These concerns include elevated levels of bacteria and high flow velocities. The public is urged to use caution in and around the Kansas River and take proper precautions and hygiene to prevent prolonged exposure to river water during these wet conditions.”

Bacteria levels should decline to safe levels as the river flows recede once the rain has stopped, the release said.

The wastewater incident has no impact on the city’s ability to treat and distribute safe drinking water, the City of Lawrence said Wednesday.


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