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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Wastewater leak apparently behind bacteria in Arkansas River

By Bill Wilson
The Wichita Eagle

City of Wichita officials are working to repair a leaking valve at an intermediate pump station at the city’s main wastewater treatment plant, the apparent cause of elevated bacteria levels in the Arkansas River.

Those levels, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment said in a Sunday news release, were the cause of a public health advisory issued Friday for the river.

KDHE spokeswoman Miranda Steele said that residents should have no contact with the river from the Lincoln Street Bridge in central Wichita to the Oklahoma state line.

Steele said pets and livestock should be kept away from the river as well. A fish kill in areas with "black, odiferous water" has been reported along the river between south Wichita and Derby.

State and local officials will work through the holiday weekend to assess the situation, the state spokeswoman said. The affected portion of the river is south and downstream of Wichita River Festival activities, which kick off on Friday.

Steele said the full impact of the untreated wastewater isn’t known, but the health advisory will remain in effect.

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