WICHITA, Kan. - The City of Wichita allowed water to rise in the Arkansas River just a week before the start of the Wichita River Festival. "That's pretty neat. I can't believe it filled up that fast. It's only been a day and half since they shut that and it's already full," said Randy Mans, Wichita resident.
Those who frequently visit the Lincoln Street Bridge were glad to see the river return in time for the Riverfest. "It's the River Festival. You know, you couldn't have a lot of the events without having the river up," said Clarence Meyer, Wichita resident.
The city made plans before construction began to have water levels rise for the annual event. Although water levels started rising on Wednesday morning, construction continued on the bridge and dam. "Progress on the dam is going good. There's still some minor items left to complete on the dam, so it's operational, but it's not 100 percent complete yet. We also have work on the bridge yet to finish," said Steven Degenhardt, engineer for Wichita Public Works and Utilities. Degenhardt said the project is on schedule and cautions people who want to check on the progress. "Remind people this still is a construction zone. I know there's a lot of interesting things to see down there but people can be mindful of the construction zone," he said.
Engineers will have to lower water levels after Riverfest to finish construction. The project is expected to be complete by October or November.
Health Advisory Issued for Parts of Arkansas River
WICHITA, Kan. - The Kansas Department of Health and Environment, (KDHE), Friday issued a public health advisory for the Arkansas River due to elevated levels of bacteria. This was discovered during routine water sampling. KDHE has also confirmed a report of a fishkill in the Arkansas River in areas where there is black, odiferous water. This health advisory extends through the portion of the Arkansas River from the Lincoln Street Bridge in central Wichita to the Oklahoma state line.
KDHE advises individuals to have no contact with the Arkansas River between the locations identified above until further notice. Residents are also advised to keep their pets and livestock from making contact with the water.
The cause has not been identified. KDHE is conducting an investigation and will continue to follow up with water testing to determine when this notice can be lifted.