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Mandy Cawby

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Update Regarding the City Of Lawrence’s Nitrogen Discharge Into Kansas River

Post Date:03/29/2018 8:00 AM

The City of Lawrence, Kansas has announced that they will cease discharge of nitrogen-contaminated water into the Kansas River by April 1st, meeting the deadline required by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE). According to KDHE’s stated public agreement, further releases of contaminated water from Lawrence will not be authorized.

Beginning in November 2017, the city was authorized by KDHE to discharge into the Kansas River contaminated groundwater and storm water run-off collected from the site of a former fertilizer manufacturing plant. The contaminated water contains nitrogen which breaks down into nitrate, a federally regulated contaminant that water providers like WaterOne are required to monitor and disclose. High nitrates can be harmful to fish and humans by depleting oxygen in the water. As part of the agreement with KDHE, discharge was limited to no more than 500,000 gallons per day and allowed only when the river flow rate was 1000 cubic feet per second (cfs) or greater. Higher-than-normal water levels in the Kansas River throughout the winter months assisted in providing the sufficient dilution required by KDHE.

WaterOne draws and treats water from both the Kansas and Missouri Rivers. Protecting the safety of its customers is the highest priority at WaterOne, and the District’s staff carefully monitored real-time data collected from upriver analyzers during the period that discharge was released. The analyzers provided continuous nitrate concentration data and gave WaterOne ample advance notice to adjust water treatment based on water quality conditions. WaterOne is continuing to review the situation, and has maintained an open dialogue with Lawrence, KDHE, and river stakeholders to be kept apprised of any changes to our shared water resources.

Read the original news release here. 

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