Responding to a heated exchange from residents and a letter from city officials, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDME) has extended the public comment period regarding its proposed remediation plan for public well number eight. A nearly fifty-minute exchange between the city council, members of the community, representatives from Southern Plains Co-op and officials from KDHE at their regular meeting on Feb. 18, concluded with a request from the city to extend the comment period.
There was some opposition from community members for the “wait and see” plan proposed in KDHE’s Corrective Action Decision (CAD), released for public viewing on Jan. 24.
“If the plan is to just wait and see if it doesn’t work, why not just fix it now,” asked former mayor John Janssen.
“The way it is written in the CAD, if we see nitrate concentrations above 10 MgL in Well #5 which is the closest to Well #8, then we would go to the contingency,” replied KDHE representative Jessica Crossman.
KDHE is recommending long-term monitoring of the site for a projected 10 years at a cost of $30,000.
The alternative options are a “no action” response at a cost of $4,000, or on-site groundwater treatment with an estimated cost of $220,000.
Southern Plains Co-op, the current owner of the property formerly known as Farmer’s Grain and Supply of Kiowa County, is responsible for costs associated with the clean up.
Treatment of the site would include injections of a “soybean based substrate that accelerates denitrification” and is the contingency should monitoring continue to find contamination. Testing and treatment would be during a projected five-year period.
Public Utilities Superintendent Mick Kendall was present at the meeting and confirmed that there has been no nitrate testing at the well since 2004.
“We haven’t pumped that well since 2004 because when we do the nitrate levels start going up,” said Kendall.
He also noted that the city has not filled the municipal swimming pool with water from Well #8 since 2004, which was incorrectly published in the CAD.
Councilman Matt Christenson asked if the recommended remediation plan was based on the city’s new water treatment plan, scheduled to come on-line sometime in the coming months.
While Crossman said it was not, the CAD did include a mention of the plant, which would blend and treat water pumped from city wells, including Well #8.
Crossman said the inclusion of the water treatment plant in the CAD was informational only.
City officials asked KDHE to consider an extension of the public comment period so it could do further testing and nitrate measurement.
Page 2 of 2 - “[An extension would] allow time for the well to be brought back online and to gauge its impact on the nitrate plume,” wrote City Administrator Ed Truelove in a letter to KDHE on Feb. 22. “An extension would also allow for testing of the nitrate levels in Well #8, and for increased public input after the results of the nitrate testing have been published.”
KDHE announced on Tuesday that the comment period had been extended to Mat 1 to allow further input from residents and city officials on its proposed plan.
KDHE has published information on the well and its proposed plan at: www.kdheks.gov/remedial
An inspection by KDHE in 2002 found elevated nitrate levels in city Well #8 and traced it to fertilizer contamination by Farmer’s Grain and Supply of Kiowa County, which was since purchased by Southern Plains Co-Op. In 2003 the Farmer’s Grain and Supply entered into a consent agreement to clean the site. KDHE reported that the well was contaminated again following the May 2007 tornado. The CAD is the final step in remediation of the site.