The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on October 3, 1997 · Page 8
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 8

Salina, Kansas
Issue Date:
Friday, October 3, 1997
Page 8
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FRIDAY, OCTOBER 3, 1997 WATER POLLUTION THE SALINA JOURNAL Most Kansas watersheds troubled by pollution State officials say testing more stringent than in other states By LIBBY QUAID The Associated Press WASHINGTON — Nearly three- quarters of Kansas watersheds have pollution problems, mostly because of farm runoff, the Environmental Protection Agency said Thursday. On a scale of one to six, with six being worst, 66 of Kansas' 90 watersheds rated five or worse, reflecting serious water-quality problems. But state officials said testing in Kansas is more extensive and severe than that of other states, pushing its scores higher. The EPA relied on the state's figures in compiling its report. "We do more reporting, and we really don't play games with the designation of our surface water systems," said Don JJrown, spokesman for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. "There are states who designate the majority, if not all, of their surface water as livestock watering. In that case, unless livestock is dying from drinking water, there's no reason to test." None of the reported contamination in Kansas came from large corporate hog farms and their waste lagoons, Brown said. , More than a year ago, Gov. Bill Graves' administration launched a.major water-quality initiative to The Web site for EPA water assessment Information i*: hnp://$uii/lwi. ensure that Kansans have safe water to drink. Cities and farm groups have criticized the new standards as too stringent, too costly and too unscientific. Brown said a pilot monitoring project is focused on the Lower Republican Basin in north-central Kansas, which includes the towns of Concordia and Belleville. That watershed, which was among those with a rating of five, has public water supplies and varied agricultural uses including row crops such as sorghum, corn, soybeans and some wheat. The EPA study is the first national assessment of regional water quality. Besides farm runoff, the study also accounted for pollution from factories and sewer systems. Agricultural runoff has been a long-standing unresolved water pollution problem. Federal environmental laws do not cover farm runoff, leaving regulation to the states. Only two watersheds, both straddling the Kansas-Missouri line and covering several Kansas City suburbs in both states, had scores of six. They were the Lower Kansas, which also includes Lawrence, and the Lower Missouri-Crooked. The EPA reported that 57 percent the country's watersheds have moderately serious or serious problems. While Kansas was far worse than the national figure, Missouri fared better. Thirty-one of its 67 watersheds scored five or higher. Several met the lowest rating of one, including mid-Missouri's Lower Missouri-Moreau, which stretches to Boonville, Jefferson City, Columbia and Fulton. The EPA put its detailed watershed assessments on the Internet, including 15 different indicators used to determine water quality. There are more than 2,000 watersheds, river and stream drainage areas, in the country. Slightly more than 25 percent of Kansas lakes are degrading over time, a 1996 KDHE report showed. Two years earlier, the figure was 23 percent. The state agency said farm runoff was the major polluter. EPA seeks public's help in cleaning up nation's watersheds By The Associated Press WASHINGTON — Most of the country's watersheds are polluted, the Environmental Protection Agency said Thursday. Seeking public help for their recovery, the agency is providing a new way to get out quick information about local rivers and streams — the Internet. "Putting information into the hands of citizens is the most effective way of reducing pollution," EPA administrator Carol Browner said. It's as important for the public to be informed about threats to regional waterways as it is to know of toxic chemicals coming from nearby factories, she said. Browner unveiled results of a nationwide assessment of America's watersheds showing that more than half those examined have pollution problems primarily because of runoff from farms, factories and sewer systems. The data for the first time will be available to the public from computers in the home, schools or lo- RALPH WEIGH. Bonds - Insurance Phone 827-2906 115 East Iron &Cany Mon.-Pri. 8-5:30 Sat. 8-4 827-5581 528 Kenwood Park Drive, Salina, KS o WAREHOUSE SELL-OUT We Are EMPTYING THE WAREHOUSE Into Our SHOWROOMS SATURDAY 10 am to 5 pm SUNDAY 1 pm to 5 pm All Items WiU Be Clearly Marked With Special BLOW-OUT Tags SAVINGS UP TO Bring Your TRUCKS AND TRAILERS Pick Up and Save! Delivery Available at Extra Charge w 0. NO INTEREST/NO PAYMENTS Till 3/98! A SELL-OUT OF ALL WAREHOUSE INVENTORY TO THE BARE WALLS! NOTHING DOWN! NO INTEREST! NO PAYMENTS! TILL MAR. '98! SHOP TOMORROW 10 am to 5 pm! Prices Marked So Low Items will SELL-OUT Fast! OQE& FUCNITUCE CITY Largest Furniture Showroom Under One Roof In Kansas Phone 785-632*5865 Fax 785-632-3140 MASTERCARD, VISA, AND WSCQVEB WELCOMED South side of the Courthouse Square DOWNTOWN CLM CENTER ThomosvlUe GoUery' cal libraries, Browner said. She said people can access the information on the Internet, then locate local watersheds by using ZIP codes and even schools as locators. The so-called Toxic Inventory Report, which provides information about releases of toxic chemicals from thousands of factories and manufacturing plants, has been widely viewed as a major reason that industry has reduced toxic emissions. Browner hopes that once the public is armed with adequate information on watershed conditions, local pressures will bring about a reduction in pollution entering waterways from urban runoff and from chemicals and nutrients from farms. The EPA assessment showed that 57 percent of the country's 2,111 watersheds — or water 1 •drainage regions — have moderately serious or serious problems. Only 16 percent have "good water quality," and 38 watersheds have serious problems with the prospects likely to get worse. One in every 14 watersheds is vulnerable to further harm from agricultural and urban runoff! Browner said. She said that finding was among the most disturbing in the national assessment. The watersheds were rated on 15 indicators including whether waterways were suitable for recreation and other expected uses, the number of fishing advisories, amount of toxic contaminants such as copper and zinc and other pollution such as excessive nutrients, as well as loss of wetlands. 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