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Year-Long Project to Examine Water Quality - Tests Confirm Rainfall Affects Bacteria in Kansas City Streams

Release Date: 05/21/2010
Contact Information: Kris Lancaster, 913-551-7557,

Environmental News


(Kansas City, Kan., May 21, 2010) - Recent tests by EPA have shown increased levels of E. coli after recent rains in Kansas City area streams. The tests are part of a year-long project by the Agency to better understand water quality in the 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 this past week showed levels of E. coli ranging from 100 colony forming units per 100ml in a sample taken from Brush Creek at the Ward Parkway crossing, to 4,000 units per 100ml 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. If you must come in contact with untreated waters during these times, make sure you avoid situations that might cause you to swallow water, and be sure to wash your hands before eating.

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

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