|Downtown Wichita, Kansas, skyline at night from The Keeper of the Plains at the Arkansas River (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
TOPEKA, Kan.—The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) has modified the public health advisory first issued on May 25 for the Arkansas River. Water samples collected by KDHE and the city of Wichita indicate that bacteria concentrations above the 47th Street bridge are safe for recreation. Therefore, KDHE is modifying the current health advisory to include the portion of the Arkansas River from the 47th Street bridge to the state line.
Last week, elevated levels of bacteria were recorded during routine stream sampling by KDHE’s ambient water quality monitoring program. The city then discovered a leak at an intermediate pump station at the wastewater treatment plant. Work crews constructed a temporary fix for the leaking valve, and it has been partially successful. Therefore, the city is implementing a permanent solution that is scheduled to be completed on June 1.
KDHE advises individuals to have no contact with the Arkansas River from the 47th Street bridge in central Wichita to the Oklahoma state line. Residents are also advised to keep their pets and livestock from making contact with the water.
State and local officials will continue working to assess the situation and are committed to minimizing the impact downstream. The affected portion of the Arkansas River is south, or downstream, of Wichita's Riverfest activities, which begin June 1.
KDHE will continue to follow up with water testing to determine when this advisory can be lifted.