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Lawrence to use effluent water for irrigation

Published on -9/17/2012, 7:57 AM

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LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) -- The Kansas Department of Health and the Environment recently approved a plan for the Lawrence Parks and Recreation Department to use treated wastewater for irrigation.

Jeanette Klamm, utilities program manager for the city of Lawrence, said this summer's drought influenced the city's decision to seek approval for the plan, which involves integrating effluent -- or treated wastewater -- from the city's wastewater treatment facility into the city's irrigation plan.

"This is something we've had on the shelf for years," Klamm told The Lawrence Journal World (http://bit.ly/Ue4VYj ). "The drought this summer has spurred us into action and allowed us to get this approved pretty quickly."

The parks department trucked more than 1 million gallons of potable water to saplings, grass and flowers in medians, roundabouts and elsewhere throughout the city this summer. But under the new plan, the department will be getting that water from the wastewater treatment facility in east Lawrence instead of a fire hydrant.

The wastewater facility has been using effluent water in its own sprinklers for more than a decade. Wichita also pumps effluent water from Cowskin Creek Water Quality Reclamation Facility to recreational ponds, and many other towns across Kansas have been pumping effluent water to golf courses for years.

Human contact with effluent water isn't harmful, but ingestion is discouraged. For plants, however, the effluent is beneficial, Klamm said.

"There's a little nitrogen in there -- not very much because it has to be pumped back into the (Kansas River), but what's in there should actually be good for the plants and trees," Klamm said.

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