February/March 1999 Issue of the Planet Kansas
TABLE OF CONTENTS
It's Your State Government, by Charles Benjamin
"Representative" Alternatives Fail to Represent Wildlife, Recreation, by Chad Smith
Are We Poisoning Our Children?, by DeEtte Huffman
March Appeal - Kansas Chapter Lifeline to Success, by Craig Wolfe
Master Composter Course, by Stan Slaughter
Cleaner and More Efficient Passenger Vehicles, by Wayne Sangster
Trains, Lanes, Planes & Octanes -- Correction, by Wayne Sangster
Water & Toxics -- Matters of Life and Death, by Terry Shistar
SPRCC??!!!!, by Kathi Knipfer (SPRCC Chair)
Problems with the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve
Kansas Begins Development of Total Maximum Daily Loads, by Tom Stiles (KDHE)
KDHE Sets Weak Dead Animal Composting Rules, by Craig Volland
Its Your State Government
Charles Benjamin, Legislative Coordinator
Are you happy with the Kansas environment? Are you proud of the fact that Kansas is consistently ranked at the bottom among states for the quality of the water in its rivers and streams? Do you like the fact that the EPA fails to enforce federal clean water standards in Kansas? Do you like having your drinking water come from a river with sewage dumped into it by an outdated sewage treatment plant upstream operating for years on an expired permit? Does it concern you that you and your family are drinking, cooking, bathing and brushing your teeth with water that contains atrazine, a weed-killer that is classified by the EPA as a possible human carcinogen? Does it bother you that every day Kansas native animal and plant species have to give way to another suburban subdivision? Would you like to see more hiking paths in Kansas? Would you like to be able to have access to Kansas rivers and streams so that you dont have to drive to Missouri or Colorado to go canoeing with your family? Are you concerned that if you do get access to Kansas rivers and streams you and your kids dare not get in the water because it is full of disease-carrying fecal-coliform bacteria from feedlots and sewage treatment plants? Do you look forward to living downwind from the over-powering stench produced by hog waste, stored in open cesspools, from the 10 million pigs planned for Kansas by some large corporations? Do you think your tax money should be spent to build roads so that these large corporations can truck pork to the West Coast? Do you ever think about what your generation will leave to those that follow? Is it your responsibility to do something about it?
Dont just sit there, do something! Your legislators and the governor will only be responsive to you if they hear from you. There are those who want to use up the natural resources of this state so that they can make more money. Some want to continue using our rivers and streams as sewers and our land as garbage dumps. They dont want to pay for cleaning up the pollution they create. I can assure that these folks are in touch with elected and appointed state officials on a daily basis. If you want to counter the influence of the polluters than you must participate in your democracy.
Get KLEAN. Ten times during the Kansas legislative session I mail a two page legislative newsletter called the Kansas Legislative Environmental Action Alert. The newsletter is provided by first-class mail only those dues paying members of the Kansas Sierra Club who request to receive it. If you want to read the KLEANs, but dont receive it by mail, you can access it online at the Kansas Sierra Clubs website at www.kssierra.org.
Read a newspaper. The KLEANs are often dated by the time I write them. That is because the Kansas legislature only meets for 90 days every year and legislation can change overnight, especially toward the end of the session. One way you can keep current is to carefully read the newspaper. Several of the larger newspapers, notably the Wichita Eagle, the Kansas City Star and the Topeka Capital-Journal, have reporters at the state capital. In addition, the Associated Press and Harris News Service provide stories that are carried by newspapers all over the state. I know all the capital reporters very well and try to keep them informed about issues that are of concern to us. However, I dont write the stories, the reporters may not get it right (although most of the time they do) and sometimes the editors choose not to run a story. If you read something that doesnt seem quite right, contact me and I will try to clarify. I dont always see all the newspaper stories from around the state so feel to mail, fax or e-mail them to me.
Get INKed. A great resource for keeping up with Kansas legislation is the Information Network of Kansas (INK) at www.ink.org. INK provides daily calendars of committee hearings, text of bills, the legislative research service, information about legislators and how to contact them, executive officials, local government and lots of other information.
Call Toll Free. The legislative hotline is (800) 432-3924. You can leave a message for legislators to contact you about the subject matter of legislation. However, you cannot leave a message for your legislators about your opinions regarding any legislation. You can find out about the status of bills, get copies of bills mailed to you, find out which committees will hear a bill and when, and who to contact if you want to testify.
Get to know your legislators. A state representative and a state senator represent every person in Kansas. If you dont know who your state representative and senator are, you can you find out by calling the county clerk or county election officer at your county courthouse and giving them the address of your residence.
Stay in touch with your legislators at the capitol and at home. You can write your legislator by addressing letters or postcards to them at the State Capitol, Topeka, KS 66612. You can contact any legislator by telephone during the legislative session at the Senate and House switchboard at (785) 296-0111. State legislators expect their constituents to contact them at home. Find out your legislators home phone numbers and feel free to contact them when they are home on the weekend. Often legislators participate in legislative forums in their district sponsored by various groups. Watch for announcements in your newspaper. Often these are open to the general public and you can ask questions directly of your legislators. Many legislators have e-mail addresses. You should contact them or their office to get their e-mail address.
Stay in touch with Governor Graves. Even if you did not vote for him, Governor Graves is supposed to represent you. Let him know what you think. You can send letters to Governor Graves at the State Capitol, Topeka, KS 66612. You can also leave messages with your opinions about proposed legislation at his office telephone number (785) 296-3232. You can get in-state long distance rates for less than ten cents a minute. Isnt it worth a couple of minutes and spending about 20 cents to let your governor what you think?
Let me know your opinions. Let me know what you think about proposed legislation or feel free to ask me questions by contacting me by mail at 935 S. Kansas Ave., Suite 200, Topeka, KS 66612, by telephone at (785) 232-1555, by fax at (785) 232-2232, or by e-mail at email@example.com.
Governor Graves fires KDHE Secretary Mitchell. Governor Graves has chosen not to renew the appointment of Gary Mitchell, the Secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. The Governors office is supposedly carrying out a nationwide search for a permanent KDHE Secretary. Let the Governor know that you would like him to appoint a KDHE Secretary who will be an advocate for environmental protection and will vigorously implement existing environmental laws.
Other environmental issues in 1999. Should there be a permanent Kansas Surface Water Quality Commission, appointed by the governor, to determine water quality standards in Kansas. How about separating the Kansas Department of Health and Environment into a Department of Health and a Department of Environment? Should county commissions be allowed to make local regulations governing hog operations stricter than state standards? Should groundwater management districts have powers to impose regulations on agricultural and industrial operations they think are necessary to protect groundwater resources? I will be telling you more about these and other issues in forthcoming KLEANs and the Planet Kansas.
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"Representative" Alternatives Fail to Represent Wildlife, Recreation
by Chad Smith
Since 1994, the Army Corps of Engineers has been working laboriously to find a new way to manage its six big dams on the Missouri River. In August 1998, the agency released 64 proposed ways to do so, focusing on eight alternative management options meant to represent the range of possibilities.
The Corps still did not get it right.
The eight options serving as the focus of the Corps Preliminary Revised Draft Environmental Impact Statement (PRDEIS), still available for public review, do not consider changes in dam operations that significantly interfere with commercial navigation and ignore opportunities to restore habitat and acquire land from willing sellers.
As long as the Corps continues to consider a nine-month navigation season on the Missouri as a sacred cow, no gains will be made for endangered species like the pallid sturgeon, the interior least tern and the piping plover. Further, dam operations that favor this full navigation season ensure that the river is too fast and deep for those living below Sioux City to enjoy. Today, you canoe at your own risk on the lower Missouri River.
Although recreation on the entire river produces fifteen times as many economic benefits as navigation, the Corps continues to be reluctant to change dam operations and upset barge shippers. The Corps own analysis shows that ending navigation during the summer aids every user of the river but one barge shippers. Even so, the Corps failed to highlight a split navigation season as one of the eight "representative" alternatives.
Currently, the Corps operates its six big dams (Ft. Peck, Garrison, Oahe, Big Bend, Ft. Randall, and Gavins Point) as a single system under the Master Water Control Manual, a system driven by the desire to provide dependable flows for barge traffic. Drought in the 80s and flooding in the early 90s convinced the Corps to revisit the Master Manual and come up with a new way of managing the river that supposedly reflects changing needs in the basin.
The effort failed in 1994, and the Corps and the states, through the Missouri River Basin Association, have been trying to figure out what to do ever since.
Among the issues being considered by the Corps in the new PRDEIS are whether to increase the size of the permanent pool (the lowest amount of water held in the reservoirs), and whether to reduce dam releases for barge traffic earlier during droughts. The Corps also considered whether to change dam operations to aid river wildlife, and whether the Missouris dams should be operated to support navigation on the Mississippi River.
The Corps should be releasing more water in the spring to trigger wildlife reproduction and less water in the summer to expose sandbars for nesting birds. This pattern of high spring flows and low summer flows would somewhat mimic the rivers natural hydrograph. Recreation on the lower river would get a boost, as shallower river depths, sandbars and backwaters would provide ample places to enjoy the Missouri. More water held in the reservoirs at this time would also enhance upstream recreation.
Of the eight "representative" alternatives, three consider at least the spring rise. Although they dont provide river levels low enough in the summer to provide key benefits for wildlife and recreation, they do show improvements in habitat for river wildlife.
Also, these alternatives would be more beneficial for farmers working the land in the Missouris floodplain as opposed to the current plan. The Corpss own data shows less damage occurring to floodplain farmers under the fish and wildlife alternatives than under current operations.
In January, the Corps finished its string of public workshops on the PRDEIS by sharing information and seeking input in St. Joseph and Jefferson City, Missouri. Starting in February, the Corps will begin evaluating the feedback it received throughout the fall and winter and will settle on a preferred alternative sometime in late 1999.
You can still influence the Corps decision by contacting David Pope, your representative on the MRBA. Tell him to speak up on behalf of wildlife, recreation and communities. Tell him to make it clear to the Corps that the state of Kansas wants a Master Manual alternative that supports wildlife and recreation, the real long-term interests of the state.
Heres how to reach David:
David Pope, Director
Kansas Division of Water Resources
901 South Kansas Avenue
Topeka, KS 66612-1283
For further information on the PRDEIS and our Missouri River Campaign, heres how to get in touch with me:
Missouri River Regional Representative
Mill Towne Building
650 J Street, Suite 400
Lincoln, Nebraska 68508
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Are We Poisoning Our Children?
by DeEtte Huffman
The movie A CIVIL ACTION, starring John Travolta has been shown nationwide and it is a riveting movie. The film, based on the book by the same name, chronicles the story of a lawsuit against two corporations with factories in Woburn, Massachusetts, after eight children in a single neighborhood die of leukemia. The film highlights the connection between ground water contamination and risks to drinking water and public health, as a tale unfolds of toxic waste being dumped and buried not far from and in the watershed of two of the town's drinking wells.
While national polls show that almost all Americans are very concerned about the quality of their drinking water--tops among all environmental issues, the bad news is, Americans don't understand that there's a connection between a river and drinking water. Drinking water is the single most popular lever we have for cleaning up and protecting our rivers.
In this story, there were 28 childhood leukemia cases and 16 deaths between 1964 and 1986 and all of the children lived in a neighborhood off of Pine Street in East Woburn that is about 10 miles north of Boston. Anne Anderson, whose son Jimmy died of acute lymphocytic leukemia in 1981 was the first resident to be suspicious that contamination in the local drinking water derived from municipal Wells G & H may be responsible for the cluster of illnesses in her neighborhood. She founded the citizens environmental group For a Cleaner Environment (FACE) that eventually brought about the federal case. Anne Anderson became a symbol of the fight against corporate carelessness.
The area surrounding the site is predominantly light industrial and residential. Surface water runoff from the site is directed through drainage systems toward the river and its tributaries. The corporations found responsible for this deadly pollution were a machine tool plant, a food-processing factory that used solvents to clean machinery and to thin paint, a leather tannery and an industrial dry-cleaning operation. Five properties within the approximately 330 acres of the site were declared responsible. One of the prime sources of the solvent contamination in the municipal wells was a plume of underground water flowing from one of the plants.
The groundwater in Woburn was contaminated with industrial solvents, called volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as trichloroethylene (TCE) and tetrachloroethylene (PCE). Soil on the five properties was contaminated with VOCs, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and pesticides. Sediment in the Aberjona River was contaminated with PAHs and heavy metals such as chromium, zinc, mercury and arsenic.
In the six years that have passed the cleanup operations will cost over $100 million dollars and there may be pollution damage to the entire eco-system of the Aberjona River and Superfund isn't designed to respond to a geographic area. Over 150 millions gallons of groundwater have been treated. 1,360 pounds of volatile organic contaminants have been destroyed. UV chemical oxidation is used to destroy the contaminants. All contaminated soil that could be excavated has been removed from the source area properties amounting to approximately 200 tons. Soil vapor extraction systems are being used to treat those soils in place. Three groundwater treatment plants pump contaminated groundwater from the aquifer.
Factory contamination, like the Woburn example, was once the major threat to America's drinking water, and is still a major problem in many watersheds. But 78% of Americans don't realize that runoff from farm fields, roads and parking lots is now our leading water quality problem. Childhood leukemia in Woburn persisted for seven years after the culprit Wells G & H had been shut down. This is very serious business and it is why we need to be ever vigilant about what is or has been dumped in our groundwater and what is therefore going to get into our streams. Rivers are our lifeline and need to be protected.
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March Appeal - Kansas Chapter Lifeline to Success
By Craig Wolfe
It's that time of year again... the time when the Kansas Chapter begins to gear up for our one window of opportunity for fund-raising to our own members. In fact it's call the March Window by Sierra Clubers. National Sierra Club give its Chapters one month out of the year when they stop their own fund-raising activities so that the state Chapters will have no competition, at least from the Mother Ship.
Last year's March Appeal was a phenomenal success. In a few short years, we have tripled what we have expected to get from our March Appeal. We raised over $30,000 in last year's March Appeal. As a result, we have insured we will be able to maintain a very high level of activism, at least for now.
The key now is to replicate last year's success. Charles Benjamin and Lynate Pettengill prove themselves to be a remarkable one-two punch with their fund-raising efforts. We can only hope we have the same level of success (or more!) so that we can keep these efforts going. Let me thank you in advance for all of your contributions and support. Our work is critical if Kansas is ever to have a clean and sustainable environment.
Believe me, Kansas needs a high level of activism just to keep our environmental heads above water. Without the Sierra Club, the interests of clean water and clean air would take a far back seat to the interests of Big Ag and Big Business.
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Master Composter Course
By Stan Slaughter
Where: Kansas City Zoo, the Exit Theater in the Deramus Pavilion at the entrance.
When: Thursday Evening February 11, 6:00-10:00 PM Friday Evening February 12, 6:00-10:00 Saturday February 13, 8:30-5:00 (we'll order pizza or bring your own lunch)
Organization: Heartland All Species Project, funded by a Waste Reduction Grant from Mid-America Regional Council.
Instructors: Larry Wilhelm, a dynamic compost advocate and excellent workshop presenter from Grapevine Texas. Stan Slaughter K.C.'s own traveling compost educator and musician. Stan will perform songs from his tape, Rot N Roll. (More on Wilhelm below)
1. Attend all sessions or arrange makeup time. (16 hours of instruction)
2. Perform 20 hours of community service after the course spreading the word about composting. Please be thinking of how you'll fulfill this commitment so you can let us know at registration. Suggestions will be made at the workshop too.
3. Report those hours and activities to the grant coordinator (Stan) when they are completed. Your volunteer hours are the community matching part of the grant.
Fees: $20 course fee includes a package containing books, a thermometer, posters, etc. Well worth it. The workshop itself is free with your service performance.
Registration/Information: To register and for more information: Call Stan at 888-484-4477 in New Mexico or Marty at 816-361-1230 locally.
Who should attend: Gardeners, school teachers, public officials, farmers, health conscious individuals, would be composters of all stripes.
More on Wilhelm: Larry Wilhelm has been working through the City of Grapevine Texas to train Master Composters and Junior Master Composters all across Texas and the South. "His enthusiasm, quality information and professional delivery make Larry Wilhelm the best workshop presenter I've ever experienced," says Stan. Besides the thousands of trained compost advocates he's generated, there's the scores of thousands of Texans who've gotten the word on composting and made a significant diversion of organic materials from Texas' waste stream.
What you'll learn: Elements of composting, history of man's use of organic matter, concepts in soil microbiology, techniques of composting, compost systems for homes, neighborhoods and cities, types and functions of bins, backyard organics management, current status and trends in the condition of agricultural soils, potential for composting in the future and many other topics.
Suggestions on how you'll meet your service commitment: By talking about compost to your neighbors, arranging to present at a service club or zoo, presenting at your neighborhood school, building a pile with someone, demonstrating at fairs and festivals. Then, mailing in an accounting of your activities on the form we'll give you.
Why the service commitment is important: Without your agreeing to provide your time, we couldn't get the grant that brought the workshop here. Without your full participation of 20 volunteer hours performed and accounted, we won't meet our match. Stan Slaughter, Heartland All Species Project
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Cleaner and More Efficient Passenger Vehicles
By Wayne Sangster
Recently the sales of sport utility vehicles, pickups, and minivans surpassed those of ordinary cars. This is not good news for the environment since regulations for cars are more stringent than for the other types of vehicles. The Clean Air Act requires the Environmental Protection Agency to decide this year whether to put further controls on pollution from cars and trucks. A recent EPA report found that unless standards for tailpipe emissions are tightened, people in many parts of this country will continue to breathe dangerously unhealthy air. This is the last chance the EPA will have to reduce auto pollution across the country for many years to come. The EPA is likely to issue draft "Tier 2" standards soon and to finalize them by the end of 1999. The Union of Concerned Scientists has issued an Action Alert for environmentalists to urge the EPA to develop a strong Tier 2 program that closes auto-pollution loopholes and protects public health.
Specifically the UCS wants the EPA to:
o dramatically reduce auto pollution and encourage development of advanced clean-vehicle technologies by modeling Tier 2 on the strict standards recently adopted in California
o require sport utility vehicles, light trucks, and minivans to meet the same tailpipe standards as passenger cars
o require diesel cars and light trucks to meet the same tailpipe standards as gasoline cars
o reduce sulfur (a major source of pollution) in gasoline and diesel fuel nationwide to California levels
Write or e-mail: Administrator Carol Browner, US EPA, 401 M Street, SW, Washington, DC 20460, firstname.lastname@example.org.
For information: See the UCS web page (www.ucsusa.org/transportation/transpo.activists.html) or call Michelle Robinson at 617-547-5552.
Motor vehicles account for one quarter of all U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide, the chief greenhouse gas. The efficiency of new passenger vehicles has been declining for 10 years because of stagnant fuel-economy standards and increasing sales of inefficient pickups, minivans, and sport utility vehicles. Vehicle miles are increasing, while the proportion of commuters taking transit steadily declines. The gains from putting cleaner cars on the road over the past 25 years are being eaten up by increases in travel and sales of dirtier light trucks.
If California can mandate tough standards there is no reason why the same standards can't be required all across the country. But we shouldn't leave it to government to require vehicles to be environmentally friendly. Individuals have a choice of what vehicle to buy, and a look at the sticker fuel mileage ratings will steer the potential buyer to "greener" modes of transport. Other ways of saving gasoline are to keep your tires inflated to the proper pressure and to ride transit, walk or bike whenever you can. Cheap gas doesn't mean that there is no problem. I happen to have a one-year-old grandson, and he will be in his early teens when world oil production starts to dip. So what will he use for transportation fuel for most of his lifetime? Then, too, there is the fact that this country uses more than its share of the world's bounties. We must have a conscience with regard to wasting the earth's nonrenewable resources.
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Trains, Lanes, Planes, and Octanes
Corrections to "Liquid fuels from natural gas"
by Wayne Sangster
Kent Pennybaker, a chemical engineer from Lawrence working in "gas to liquids," sent me comments on my last installment that led to these corrections. He pointed out that there is currently no excess production of natural gas in the U.S. (except for Alaska) that could be used to convert to gasoline. Also, natural gas prices in this country are high relative to oil for the purpose of making synthetic crude oil (corresponding to natural crude oil at $80 per barrel). Oil prices are currently much less than that. As of December 7, 1998 the New York Mercantile Exchange price was $11.19 per barrel, down from $20.91 on November 3. Oil producers in Kansas and Missouri typically receive $2.50 to $3 less per barrel than that. So most of the U.S. natural gas is not competitive in price with natural crude oil for making gasoline. Natural gas from Alaska (since it is "stranded" and considered almost worthless) or from overseas which is now reinjected or burned off would have to be used to be economical. Since natural gas can't be piped across oceans and a pipeline from Alaska is not feasible, it would have to be first converted to crude oil and then shipped by tanker. Pennybaker thinks our oil imports will continue to increase, with most of the imports coming by tanker.
I mistakenly said that gasoline had been "manufactured" in Kansas for years. The correct statement would have been that "natural gasoline" "has been taken from" natural gas. The so-called natural gasoline is of low octane rating (50-60 compared to the 87-95 we are used to) and is very different from the gasoline with which we fill up our cars. Also, Pennybaker thinks that methanol itself is a good alternative to gasoline (it has been used in Brazil for some time), either as a fuel for big boilers for power generation or for transportation fuel.
I wish to thank Mr. Pennybaker for his comments. I regret having written a flawed installment. "Natural gas to gasoline" is not as promising as I presented it previously and our own natural gas won't help us much for transportation here in the U.S. after the world production of oil peaks (possibly as soon as 2010 or so) -- all the more reason to conserve and to seek renewable alternatives.
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Water and Toxics--Matters of Life and Death
Strike a Blow for Clean Water
By Terry Shistar
It's that time again--time for the state to go through its triennial review of the Surface Water Quality Standards--the regulations that define "clean water" for the state. Actually, this review was supposed to have been completed in 1997, but two years late is better than the previous record for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), so I guess we should be pleased.
But the fact that this review is happening only two years late may be the only thing to be pleased about--unless you include being pleased that the first KDHE draft isn't as bad as it might have been. Nevertheless, it is BAD, and I hope you'll take a few minutes to let KDHE know that it isn't acceptable to you. It isn't necessary to address all the details (but I'll tell you how to find out more about them later). However, if KDHE doesn't hear from lots of people insisting on clean water, the standards will be as bad or worse than this preliminary proposal.
How bad is the proposal? Just to hit the highlights:
Antidegradation provisions have been gutted, removing most of the current "outstanding natural resource waters" from the highest level of protection, allowing them to be degraded whenever KDHE decides that degradation is warranted by "an important social or economic need".
You will find the above-mentioned provision not in the standards themselves, but in the proposed implementation procedures. This points out another difficulty--KDHE would allow the sense of the regulations to be changed by "guidelines" adopted at any time by the department.
Even those waters granted the highest level of protection under the proposed standards--now called "outstanding national resource waters" would no longer be protected from nonpoint sources like agricultural runoff or other nonpoint sources like dredging that would no longer fit KDHE's definition of "nonpoint source".
And for those of you who are rightly concerned about endangering yourself should you take a dunk in some of the state's streams, you might be shocked to learn that KDHE is proposing to weaken the contact recreation criteria.
That brings up the broader issue that by redefining nonpoint source KDHE would relieve itself of the burden of regulating nonpoint pollution problems like dredging, dewatering, and dam construction.
Finally, some of the criteria--limits on individual pollutants--have been weakened without scientific documentation. These include chloride and atrazine. The ammonia limits have been weakened in a more subtle way, by changing the assumed flow requirements.
What You Can Do
KDHE released this preliminary draft with a very short comment period. However, the agency is aiming towards releasing official draft standards for public comment in mid-February and will be holding public hearings in mid-April. Meanwhile, they are still accepting comments on the preliminary draft. So you have several opportunities to comment:
You can submit comments now. I suggest that it would be valuable to submit short comments now that address important basic issues: "No water should be degraded." "Implementation procedures should be adopted as regulations." "Protect all waters for swimming."
You can submit comments on the official draft after it is released. You will be able to find the proposal at the KDHE web site listed below. These comments can be either broad (as above) or detailed.
You can go to the public hearings in April and submit comments--either broad or detailed.
Detailed comments are good if you have the time, but the most important thing is that KDHE hear from you that you want clean water. They hear daily from people who want to pollute the water, and they need to hear from you at least once every three years. By the way, it would be helpful if you would send copies of your comments to Charles Benjamin, our chapter representative, and your state legislators.
Comments can be submitted to:
Steve M. Swaffar
Bureau of Water, Building 283
Topeka, KS 66620
The draft Surface Water Quality Standards are available from KDHE in the following formats:
You may call Jeanne Woodard at the Bureau of Water, 785-296-5500 and request that a copy be mailed to you.
You may e-mail Steve Swaffar at email@example.com and request it be e-mailed in WordPerfect format.
You may download the draft standards and draft implementation procedures in PDF format from the KDHE web site: http://www.kdhe.state.ks.us/water.
My detailed comments on the preliminary draft standards, as well as some other relevant information, are available at my web site: http://www.ukans.edu/~hazards. Feel free to e-mail me with comments and questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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By Kathi Knipfer (SPRCC Chair)
The Sierra Club's Southern Plains Regional Conservation Committee (SPRCC) is the environmental voice of the heartland, yet some Sierra Club leaders are not aware of it as a conservation resource.
Members of the SPRCC include some of Sierra Club's top conservation activists in the southern plains region. SPRCC provides an arena where prominent environmental issues are discussed. Its members provide information on relevant environmental issues, and provide mutual support and nurturance. The mission of SPRCC is to promote environmental awareness, action and education.
The SPRCC includes Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Texas. Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas each send three representatives to the SPRCC meetings; while Missouri, as an associate member, sends one representative. The delegates from all five states have full voting power. The delegates select their own officers of Chair, Vice-Chair, Secretary, and Treasurer.
The SPRCC meets three times each year. The meeting sites are rotated among the represented chapters. The next meeting will be located in Kansas City, Kansas, and will take place in conjunction with a SPRCC sponsored symposium.
The title of the symposium is "Reclaiming our Food System from the Corporate Giants: Adding an Ethical Dimension to Eating". The date of the symposium is March 6, 1999 at the Holiday Inn in Overland Park, Kansas near Kansas City. The symposium starts at 8:30 a.m. and lasts until 4:30 p.m. It will address the impacts of the industrial food system, especially factory farms, on urban citizens and rural communities and what we can do about it. A co-sponsor of this symposium is the Kansas City Food Circle Project. For more information, contact Craig Volland, Coordinator at (913)334-0556 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
The SPRCC will conduct a meeting on Sunday, March 7, 1999 to discuss relevant conservation issues and plans for action. Historically, the SPRCC has focused on a number of priority issues of regional significance. The SPRCC has fostered Sierra Club conservation activism in such areas as forest protection, addressing the impacts of the burning of hazardous waste, river protection, and addressing the impacts of confined animal feeding operations.
The SPRCC and its member chapters have been innovative in moving the Sierra Club to pay greater attention to environmental challenges facing the region. It has helped to emphasize and bring to the fore front common issues for the southern plains region and neighboring regions. For more information, contact Kathi Knipfer (Chair) at (573)635-8066 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Problems with Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve
The proposed management plan for the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve has some problems. It does have a series of excellent goal statements in it, but while at first glance it suggests a plan that will emphasize prairie ecology and experiences in the details we learn that:
1) Only 25-30 bison will be introduced in a limited area. Of course there could more later, but numbers are not specified, nor a timetable. Why? What about elk and pronghorn? No mention.
2) Cattle will not be restricted to the Ranching Legacy area. In fact, despite the plan's own statement that visitors expect to see bison--that bison are fundamental to the prairie experience people expect to have--cattle will by far dominate the preserve. The Day Use Area will have cattle, as will the Ranching Legacy area (obviously!) and the much larger Prairie Landscape area. Needless to say, I have nothing against cattle ranching! Nor does Audubon. Cattle operations have kept the prairie--and that's part of the point. We aren't hurting when it comes to seeing cattle in the Flint Hills. There are plenty of places to do that and the ranching legacy area will be a great thing to have in order to see 19th c. operations. What the TPNP can do that is unique is introduce visitors to the experience of native grazers on the prairie in ways that no other facility in the country can!
3) No percentage of cattle to bison is specified as actual or ideal.
4) Bison--we can point out--are "ranchable" grazers. I understand there are significant differences in how they are managed, but it seems possible that bison could be the significant grazer and still be utilized as a cash animal. Remember, most of the TPNP is in the hands of the National Park Trust and they are running cattle on most of the "preserve" in order to make money to pay off the purchase of the land.
5) Speaking of grazing, the management plan actually explicitly says the intensive early season grazing will be an acceptable part of the grazing regime. It does not say if IES would be limited. Given the impact of IES on grassland birds, some of us should be concerned about this. This is a huge hole to allow overgrazing on most of the TPNP.
6) The emphasis on cattle grazing--which is subtly "buried" in the text--is very much at odds with a number of the vision statements in the plan. Of course ranching--historical 19th century ranching--ought to be a part of the Z-Bar. But there's something amiss in the management plan.
Finally, you might be interested in noting that the most popular option for public input was the plan to manage the preserve as tallgrass prairie (including emphasis on "native" grazers). 67% of the public comments support this option.
It seems the NPS is stuck between what the public wants (and what the general philosophical points are in its management plan) and the need for the NPT to pay off the debt.
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Kansas Begins Development of Total Maximum Daily Loads
By Tom Stiles, KDHE
Section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act calls for each state to identify those waters within its boundaries for which effluent limitations are not stringent enough to implement any water quality standard applicable to such waters. The state also priority ranks those waters, accounting for the severity of the pollution and the uses to be made of the waters. For those identified waters, the state is to establish the total maximum daily load (TMDL) for those pollutants causing the non-attainment of the water quality standards. Such loads are to be established at a level necessary to implement the applicable water quality standard with seasonal variations and a margin of safety that accounts for uncertainty concerning the relationship between effluent limitations and water quality.
TMDLs are required when technology based effluent limitations, additional federal, state or locally required effluent limitations and other pollution control requirements (best management practices) are not stringent enough to allow attainment of the applicable water quality standards. Water quality standards include numeric criteria, narrative criteria, designated uses of the water and antidegradation provisions.
TMDL development establishes levels necessary to attain and maintain water quality standards, allowing for seasonal variations and a margin of safety to safeguard the environment in the face of uncertain relationships between effluent limitations and water quality. TMDL determinations take into account critical conditions of streamflow, loading and water quality parameters. TMDLs may be established on a pollutant basis or using biomonitoring approaches. In either case, site specific information should be used if possible. TMDLs are established for all pollutants that prevent or are likely to prevent attainment of the water quality standards. All calculations to establish TMDLs are subject to public review.
On November 1, 1995, the Kansas Natural Resource Council and the Sierra Club filed a complaint against the EPA, compelling it to enforce Section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act by establishing TMDLs pursuant to Section 303(d) and to compel EPA to approve or disapprove Kansas' Continuing Planning Process relative to Section 303(e) of the Clean Water Act. Kansas, intervened in the litigation, since the state had lead responsibility for identifying and ranking in priority the waters requiring TMDLs and establishing such TMDLs. A settlement was reached and a consent decree approving the settlement was made on April 13, 1998. Under the terms of the court decree, a schedule of submittals is agreed upon regarding the Continuing Planning Process document and the TMDLs established for the water quality limited water bodies of the state.
Pursuant to the Section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act, Kansas has prepared lists of water quality impaired stream segments in 1994, 1996 and 1998. The 1998 list, submitted to and approved by EPA lists over 770 water quality limited stream segments and 130 lakes within the 12 major river basins, requiring establishment of TMDLs. Parameters identified as causing impairment in streams included boron, cadmium, chloride, chlordane, dissolved oxygen depletions, fecal coliform bacteria, fluoride, various metals, ammonia, pH, selenium, sulfate and zinc. Parameters identified as impairments to the designated uses of lakes include: eutrophic conditions, atrazine, dissolved oxygen, pH, chloride, sulfate, fecal coliform bacteria, siltation, chlordane, various metals, alachlor, excessive aquatic plant development and hydrologic limitations (insufficient inflows, inadequate volume or depth, surface area chronically below planned pool levels).
Anticipated Schedule of Developing Tmdls by Basin
The schedule adopted under the court decree called on completing TMDLs among the 12 basins over the eight-year period 1999-2006 in a 1-2-1-2-1-2-1-2 annual sequence. The following schedule, listed in the first two columns, tentatively identifies the order of basin work to be done in accordance with the Court Decree.
Kansas will attempt to accelerate the schedule and establish the first round of basin TMDLs within the first 5 years of the effective period of the court decree, as indicated in the third column. Accelerating the schedule allows the state time to "mop-up" additional work generated by subsequent 303(d) lists submitted in years 2000, 2002 and 2004.
That follow-up work will involve establishing TMDLs for additional stream segments and lakes found to be impaired by future monitoring in the basins where initial TMDL work was completed. Additionally, quantitative assessments of narrative criteria for other pollutants causing impairment, notably sediment and nutrients, will likely be available for subsequent Section 303(d) listings in 2000 and beyond, necessitating establishing TMDLs for those parameters.
YEAR DECREE SCHEDULE ACCELERATED SCHEDULE 303(d) LIST
1998-1999 Kansas-Lower Republican Kansas-Lower Republican 1998
1999-2000 Lower Arkansas Lower Arkansas 1998
Upper Arkansas Upper Arkansas 1998
2000-2001 Marais des Cygnes Marais des Cygnes 2000
2001-2002 Missouri Neosho 2000
Neosho Verdigris 2000
2002-2003 Verdigris Smoky Hill-Saline 2002
Upper Republican 2002
2003-2004 Walnut Follow-Up 2002
2004-2005 Solomon Follow-Up 2004
2005-2006 Cimarron* Follow-Up 2004
Upper Republican* * Basins may be done early as logistics dictate, follow-up would be done in 2005.
Establishing Total Maximum Daily Loads
Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) are viewed as the quantitative objectives and strategies needed to achieve water quality standards. The water quality standards, themselves, constitute the goals of water quality adequate to fully support designated uses of streams, lakes and wetlands. The process of developing TMDLs determines:
In Kansas, TMDL development will follow the process described in the EPA's Guidance for Water Quality-Based Decisions: The TMDL Process as well as the seven TMDL components suggested in the recommendations of the Federal Advisory Committee on the TMDL Program in its final report, issued July 1998. The TMDL process involves:
1. Selection of the pollutant to consider, identifying the problem and defining the goal for improved water quality
2. Determination of the assimilative capacity of the water body to receive that pollutant without violation of the applicable water quality standard and the current deviations exceeding that assimilative capacity.
3. Estimation of the type, location and magnitude of pollutant sources contributing loads to the waterbody.
4. Estimation of the linked relationship between those pollutant sources and their relative impact on the ambient water quality of the water body, including the anticipated response in water quality conditions upon load modifications arising from the contributing sources.
5. Allocation of permissible loads among point, non-point and background sources of contributed pollutant reaching the waterbody. Assignment of responsibility for implementing corrective actions among point sources and non-point sources. Establishment of a margin of safety to safeguard the quality of the environment against uncertain relationships between pollutant contributions and ambient water quality.
6. Follow-up monitoring to assess the level of implementation along the water body and within the watershed and to evaluate the impact of that implementation on the water quality condition of the impaired waterbody.
7. A feedback mechanism which allows TMDLs and their implementation to iterate toward progressive improvement in water quality, as determined though compliance with water quality standards, over time and in response to evaluated information on the effective impact of corrective actions on water quality.
Public Participation Process
Kansas intends to use the existing Water Planning Process to create opportunities for coordination with other agencies, interest groups and the general public.
With the impending work on TMDLs across the state, the Authority has authorized expenditures from the State Water Plan Fund for developing and implementing TMDLs. Plans also call for the incorporation of specific TMDLs and priorities for implementation within the basins into each of the specific Basin Plans of the Kansas Water Plan during the time period that TMDL work is underway within that basin. The proposed Basin Plan subsections will include background information, including the impaired water bodies in the basin and the associated pollutants; the linkage of TMDL development to the Water Quality Protection Strategy policy subsection of the Kansas Water Plan; priorities for TMDL implementation in that basin, identification of programs to be used in implementing TMDLs in the basin; and any data, monitoring and research needs in the basin associated with TMDLs.
By incorporating TMDLs into the Basin Plans, the Kansas TMDL process will use the public participation aspects of the State Water Planning Process. Briefings will be made to the Kansas Water Authority at its quarterly meetings. Monthly meetings with the BAC in the basin where TMDL work is being conducted is anticipated. The March public meeting in that basin will center on the question of TMDLs and their implications for basin activities. Likewise, the June public hearings will take testimony not only on the TMDL subsection of the Basin Plan, but on the TMDLs themselves. Additionally, basin specific TMDL public forums will be scheduled for April of each year at a couple of locations within the basin to facilitate a dialogue among the agencies, the general public, impacted dischargers, interest groups and municipalities on the TMDLs and their implementation.
Recognizing that tangent deliberations occur outside the State Water Planning Process, the Department is also scheduling regular meetings with the interest groups representing municipalities, agriculture and environmental concerns. Such organizations include the League of Kansas Municipalities, the Kansas Farm Bureau, the Kansas Natural Resources Council, Sierra Club, etc. Basin specific interest groups will also be solicited for input and advice as the TMDLs specific to the water resources of their concern are developed. Additionally, specific task forces will be used for unique water resources or pollutants to help establish TMDLs for those situations. KDHE will develop, maintain and update a TMDL website on their agency Internet home page to provide the public with the status and new developments of TMDL activities on a statewide and basin specific basis.
The input received through these forums and the other outlets provided by the State Water Planning Process will be incorporated within the submittal of the TMDLs to EPA by June 30 of each year. Approximately two weeks after those TMDLs are submitted, the Department will also submit the approved Basin Plan TMDL subsection of the Kansas Water Plan approved by the Kansas Water Authority prior to July 15.
The Kansas-Lower Republican Basin TMDLs
The Section 303(d) list submitted to and approved by EPA in 1998 identifies 259 river segments and 29 lakes in the KLR Basin as water quality impaired. Among the streams, the greatest number of impairments were caused by excessive levels of fecal coliform bacteria. Among the lakes, eutrophic conditions indicative of excessive algae production was the predominant cause of impairment.
Other pollutants limiting the use of KLR Basin streams include selenium, dissolved oxygen depletion, ammonia, chloride, chlordane and zinc. Additional lake impairments were caused by atrazine, alachlor, dissolved oxygen depletion, pH, fecal coliform bacteria, siltation, excessive aquatic plants and hydrologic limitations. Each parameter causing impairment requires a TMDL.
Many of the stream segments configured in a watershed setting with a TMDL applied to them as a whole. All told, about 70 watershed TMDLs and 50 lake TMDLs are anticipated to be developed in the first half of calendar year 1999. The TMDLs describing the goals to reduce pollution and achieve the water quality standards and the plans to meet those goals have to be submitted to EPA by June 30, 1999.
The following opportunities for discussing and learning more about TMDLs in the basin are scheduled:
BAC Meetings Other Public Meetings
January 14 - Olsburg - 10 am March 10 - Topeka - 7 pm - Water Plan/TMDL
February 18 - Manhattan - 10 am Public Meeting
March 10 - Topeka - 2 pm April 27 - Lawrence - 7 pm - TMDL Public Forum
May 20 - Manhattan - 1 pm April 29 - Manhattan - 7 pm - TMDL Public Forum
June 3 - Topeka - 10 am June 3 - Topeka - 7 pm - Water Plan/TMDL Public
The general public is invited to attend any and all of these meeting to discuss the issues centered on establishing TMDLs in the Kansas-Lower Republican Basin. There is also a standing offer to meet with any interest group wishing to discuss the issue and its implications. After June 30, KDHE will move its attention to setting TMDLs in the Lower Arkansas, Upper Arkansas and Cimarron River Basins. Similar opportunities for public involvement will be available in those basins over 1999-2000.
Should any reader have questions about the upcoming process or would like information on the specifics of setting TMDLs in the KLR, please call Tom Stiles at KDHE (785-296-6170) or email at email@example.com.
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KDHE Sets Weak Dead Animal Composting Rules
By Craig Volland
KDHE was required under the Hog Bill (HB2950) to create new rules for the composting of dead animals. This is a serious issue because death rates of hogs up to 30% have been reported in confined hog breeding facilities in Oklahoma. Death rates of 4 to 6% are even noted in some corporate hog factory literature. Presently dead hogs are buried in unlined trenches in Kansas or sent to renderers where they are boiled down, shipped to feed mills and mixed into animal feed. The Kansas Chapter of the Sierra Club reviewed the proposed regulation as follows:
The Kansas Pork Producers Council complained in their comment that there is no reason for additional regulations for an on-site composting facility. They needn't have worried since the KDHE's new regulations will have little practical effect, anyway. Neighbors of hog factories and cattle feedlots can now look forward to big piles of dead animals on the horizon, although I have a hunch that the cattle operators, anyway, will think twice before attempting whole animal composting on top of silty loams... with odors already a major issue.
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