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Kansas Riverkeeper finds strange things lurking in the water

Kansas River Pollution
Posted at 4:57 PM, Apr 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-30 20:01:33-04

DESOTO, Kan. — For Kansas Riverkeeper Dawn Buehler, part of the job includes responding to reports of odd items floating down the river.

"Basically my job is to protect the Kansas River," Buehler said.

Severe weather and rain can make her job more difficult.

"Right now is an example of when the water quality of the Kansas River is probably at its poorest," Buehler said.

In her five years as Kansas Riverkeeper, Buehler has found some interesting items in the water or washed up on shore.

"A hot water heater, one time we found a toilet on a sandbar that washed its way into the river," Buehler said, adding that abandoned boat and jet skis also have created a challenge.

Still, those items don’t even compare to the main problem: trash.

"The number one thing that we find more than anything else is plastic bottles in the Kansas River," she said.

Spring flooding has led to the need for more clean-up. Over the weekend, more than 70 volunteers picked up trash in Lawrence along the banks of the river. Buehler said it was the fourth clean-up in the month of April.

"It does take an entire community to not only keep track of the river and turn in pollution but also to clean it up," Buehler said.

The Kansas Riverkeeper is part of the global Waterkeeper Alliance, a network of more than 300 people worldwide.

If you see any pollution along the 173-mile Kansas River, report it here or call the hotline at 866-RIV-KEEP.