May 24, 2010

Yearlong EPA Project to Examine Water Quality

Tests confirm rainfall affects bacteria in Kansas City streams

Recent tests by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have shown increased levels of E. coli after recent rains in Kansas City, Kan., area streams. The tests are part of a yearlong project by the agency to better understand water quality in Kansas City area streams, including Line, Shoal, Tomahawk, Indian, Mill, Coffee, Brush, Brenner Heights and Turkey Creeks, as well as the Little Blue and Blue Rivers.

As part of this survey, samples will be analyzed to understand the relationship between bacteria and other water quality parameters.

Sampling conducted showed levels of E. coli ranging from 100 colony forming units per 100 mL in a sample taken from Brush Creek at the Ward Parkway crossing, to 4,000 units per 100 mL from a sample taken from Brush Creek at Rockhill Road. These numbers are consistent with past studies by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Rainfall washes bacteria into waters from sources such as runoff and combined sewers. Bacteria levels can rise rapidly as a result of rain and, in larger urban areas, generally drop back to normal levels within 48 to 72 hours. After a rain event, water quality is less favorable for swimming and activities around water.

Completed results from EPA’s results of recent sampling will be available soon.