KDHE playing it safe with Arkalon ponds
By ELLY GRIMM
• Leader & Times
People wishing to fish out at Arkalon Park will soon be asked to accommodate some changes.
Arkalon Park Camphost Jody Thompson said recently, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) requested park staff begin a “Catch and Release” policy at the park.
“It's the KDHE. They're saying the water isn't good and the fish aren't good enough to eat,” Thompson said in a phone interview Wednesday morning. “There haven’t been any effects. I've actually been eating the fish from there for about 30 years and there's never been a problem. That's basically it, after about 30 years, the fish suddenly aren't good enough to eat.”
There have also been reports of carp washing up dead on the shores, which Thompson said is the winter kill. Thompson said the KDHE asked for the signs to be put up rather recently.
“That all happened a couple weeks ago, I believe, so not too long ago,” Thompson said. “The signs are being made right now, and as soon as we get them, I'm putting them up. That should be within a week or two. And with the carp coming up dead, that's just the winter kill.”
Thompson said the rules for the upcoming catch and release are pretty simple.
“Basically just catch them and throw them back, that's basically all it is. I don't know though how I'll enforce it since I can't be there 24/7,” Thompson said.
Matt Keith, director of communications in the office of the secretary with the KDHE, also gave some background on the situation.
“Bascially, in the permits, there’s a condition that wetlands have to be posted as catch and release only for the water in Arkalon Park, and that’s because it’s directly fed with wastewater, so it’s a precautionary measure to make sure no one’s eating fish,” Keith said in a phone interview Thursday morning. “And we don’t allow wastewater to be used to irrigate crops meant for consumption, so this is similar to that.”
Keith said there is some more information that needs to be gathered for the investigation.
“I would have to check with our team on some things, I know emerging contaminants untreated in the wastewater can cause health issues, so I don’t know if it’s a situation where they’d have to stop feeding it with wastewater or treating that wastewater’s contaminants,” Keith said. “I also don’t have a start date on the investigation, I’d have to look that information up. I don’t have the timeline on it, I’d have to gather that.”
Keith said there are also no extra precautions to be put in place with this situation.
“I don’t know that we’ve put any other precautions out there besides the catch and release,” Keith said. “I’d have to confirm that, but for right now, the catch and release is the only conditions we have there at the moment. The important thing is this is a precautionary measure so no one’s eating fish that may have been contaminated by the wastewater, which could cause some health issues.”