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Topeka Pays Fine, Upgrades Equipment After Sewage Spill

Photo by Stephen Koranda

The city of Topeka has agreed to pay a $10,000 fine to state regulators after accidentally releasing 3 million gallons of sewage into the Kansas River in April. A piece of equipment lost power and leaked the sewage over about two days before the problem was detected.

Topeka Deputy City Manager Doug Gerber says they hope to better react to any future issues.


“Obviously we don’t want these things to happen but when they do we hopefully learn lessons, make operational improvements, make efficiency improvements, make technical improvements,” says Gerber.

Topeka has made equipment upgrades and will alert downstream communities like Lawrence and Olathe of any future spills that could cause a public health threat.

Jeanette Klamm, with the city of Lawrence, says if they have notice of an upstream spill they can better respond.


“Pick up our samples a little bit more in frequency, we would increase some of the chemicals that we use and basically look for it,” says Klamm.

Lawrence gets some of its drinking water from the Kansas River. Klamm says the river was high at the time of the release so the impact of the sewage spill was small.

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(VERSION TWO)

The city of Topeka will pay a $10,000 fine after accidentally releasing 3 million gallons of raw sewage into the Kansas River in April. KPR’s Stephen Koranda reports.


(SCRIPT)
A pump station lost power back in April, and for around two days the sewage leaked into the Kansas River before the problem was discovered.

Bob Sample is director of Water Pollution Control for Topeka. He says as part of the agreement they have upgraded equipment and will more frequently test the backups that should have prevented this problem.

“If the exact same thing was to happen, I’m very confident that we would not only be notified, but backup systems would start working immediately,” says Sample.

The agreement also includes a plan to alert downstream communities like Lawrence and Olathe of any future spills that could pose a public health threat.

 

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