Water quality improvements underway

Faith Hadley

The Environmental Protection Agency recently released a proposal mandating water quality nationwide.

On March 16, the agency will release interim measures which will “specify maximum levels of drinking water contaminants and monitoring requirements for public water supply systems” according to the EPA website. These will need to be complied with on state and municipal levels.

Rick Anderson, vice president of administration and treasurer of Washburn University, shared what has and will be done to improve water quality. Washburn is treated as its own planning development section of the city.

“We have to do our part to improve the water quality,” Anderson said.

There are two water detention areas on campus: one on the southwest corner of campus and the other between the softball and baseball fields. Detention areas help by filtering water, slowing flow and acting as flood control. Water pools in times of rain or snow melt, causing larger particles of debris to settle and reducing clogging and contamination.

Filtration is also introduced by using specific materials during construction. Using varying sizes of dirt, gravel, sand and porous concrete help filter water as it travels to the sewer systems. These were used in the construction of the new parking behind the KTWU building.

Bartlett & West, a Topeka-based engineering firm, has been advising the administration on this matter. The firm supplied a report detailing the various options the university has to improve water quality.

Installing a rain garden is an attractive possibility. Jason Emry teaches botany and ecology classes and spoke of the usefulness of rain gardens for both water quality and education. They are planted near a common run off area and contain deeply rooted plants that filter water and send it deep into the soil. According to Emry, observing “what species are gravitating towards this as being an urban habitat” is a possible experiment classes could conduct, among many others. Plans are in place to potentially plant one in the detention area by Washburn Village.