For Immediate Release
TOPEKA, Kan.—The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) first issued a public health advisory for the Arkansas River on Friday May 25 due to elevated levels of bacteria recorded during routine stream sampling by KDHE’s ambient water quality monitoring program. Since then, the City of Wichita has discovered a leak at an intermediate pump station at the city's main wastewater treatment plant. Crews are working to repair a leaking valve. At this time, the full impact of the untreated wastewater entering the River is not known, but the health advisory that began Friday remains in effect.
KDHE advises individuals to have no contact with the Arkansas River between the Lincoln 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 through the Memorial Day holiday weekend to assess the situation and are committed to minimizing the impact downstream. The affected portion of the Arkansas River is south and downstream of Wichita's Riverfest activities, which kick off June 1.
As announced on Friday, KDHE has also confirmed a report of a fishkill in areas where there is black, odiferous water. That fishkill is located along the River between southern Wichita and the City of Derby.
KDHE will continue to follow up with water testing to determine when this advisory can be lifted.