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Usage of Water
Threats and Hazards
Wolf Creek Nuclear Plant
Water Quality
Water Quantity
Nuclear Plant Emergency Plan

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Call 911 to report Hazards, Toxic Spills or Threats to Basin


Size: The Neosho Basin covers approximately 6,300 square miles and encompasses all or parts of 18 counties in southeastern Kansas.

Population: There were an estimated 174,000 residents in the basin in the year 2000, and the population is projected to grow to nearly 195,000 by the year 2040.

Flow: The major streams in the basin are the Neosho River and its tributary the Cottonwood River and the Spring River in the southeast portion of the basin.  The Neosho and Spring rivers join the Arkansas River in Oklahoma.  For information on water levels in the river basin click on the following website: http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ks/nwis/rt

Reservoirs: There are three major reservoirs in the river system: Council Grove, Marion and John Redmond lakes. To locate these reservoirs see the following website:  http://www.kgs.ku.edu/Hydro/lake_maps.html

Topography and Soil: The topography in the basin is Flint Hills type- escarpments and  tall grass prairie. The annual precipitation in the basin varies from approximately 30 inches in the western-most part of the basin to almost 42 inches in the southeast.  Approximately 70 percent of this precipitation falls between April and September.  In an average winter, snow fall ranges from 10 to 18 inches.  Average temperatures vary from 35 degrees in the winter to 78 degrees in the summer.

Economy: The local economy is based primarily on agriculture and general manufacturing.  The major crops grown in the basin include wheat, grain sorghum and soybeans.  The production of beef cattle is another important part of the area’s agricultural economy.  The production of oil and gas is a relatively small but important component of the economy.  A significant amount of coal, lead and zinc mining occurred historically in the southeastern portion of the basin.  Strip mining of coal is the only one of these mining activities which continues today.

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Usage of Water

The majority of water used in the basin is from surface sources (88%).  Uses of water are evenly divided between industrial, municipal and recreational.

Agriculture: Irrigation accounted for a small percent of all reported water pumped or diverted (1997). 

Industry: Industry accounted for 50 percent.   Wolf Creek Nuclear power plant is the major user of water in the basin.

Municipal: Municipal and recreational use accounted for 50 percent.

Significant water management entities in the basin include conservation districts throughout the basin, the See-Kan, Flint Hills and Lake Region Resource Conservation and Development areas and 15 active watershed districts.  By virtue of its responsibility for three major reservoirs, the Corps of Engineers is another important water manager in the basin.

Conservation Districts are part of a nationwide grass roots organization made up of people that collectively promote the wise management of our natural resources for sustained use. There are 105 Conservation Districts across Kansas, one for each county in Kansas. Each district is lead by a board of five supervisors that are locally elected. These supervisors are not paid for their service on the board.

Each conservation district has developed programs aimed to address priority concerns for their county. (Example) If you own land in Kansas, it is best to contact the district in the county you own the land. This will insure you the best in assistance and knowledge of local conditions.  http://www.cjnetworks.com/~sccdistrict/dist_ks.htm

Kansas Water Office Water Plan for Neosho Basin http://www.kwo.org/Kansas%20Water%20Plan/NEO_basin_111804.pdf

USGS study of stream geomorphology that includes John Redmond Reservoir  http://ks.water.usgs.gov/Kansas/studies/fluvial/

Groundwater: Ground water is readily available throughout the Flint Hills region. Most wells produce 10 to 100 gpm, although the eastern crest of the Flint Hills is not so productive. Well yields of 100 to 500 gpm are common in portions of central Marion and western Butler counties (KGS Map M-4a). Principal aquifers in the Flint Hills are the Nolands, Winfield, and Barneston Limestones.   Springs emerge from these units in valleys and stream channels Crystal Spring, near Florence, is one of the largest single springs in the Flint Hills. This spring supplies water for the city of Florence; the spring house has a pumping capacity of 370 gpm, and excess water flows into a nearby stream (O'Conner and Chaffee 1983). The spring emerges near the base of the Barneston Limestone on the northern side of the Cottonwood River valley.


Topographic Maps of Kansas dams:  http://www.topozone.com/states/Kansas.asp?feature=Dam

The Army Corps of Engineers is responsible for the operation of Council Grove, Marion and John Redmond lakes is an important water manager in the basin.  The City of El Dorado has contracted with the Corps of Engineers for storage space in El Dorado Lake. To contact the Army Corps of Engineers go to: http://www.nwk.usace.army.mil/regulatory/boundary.htm

KWO report on storage and marketing of water in eastern Kansas.  Includes Redman, Council Grove and Marion Lakes.  http://www.kwo.org/Reports%20&%20Publications/Rpt_2004_wmktg_annual_rpt_081505_he.pdf

Army Corps of Engineers operations in Kansas 

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Each Public Water System should provide a Consumer Confidence Report of water quality to the KDHE and the EPA.  Your CCR generally comes with your water bill.

To find out what is in your local drinking water see the websites below:

a. Consumer confidence reports posted to EPA: http://www.epa.gov/safewater/ccr/index.html    

b. Local drinking water:   http://www.epa.gov/safewater/dwinfo/index.html

c. Kansas drinking water:   http://www.epa.gov/safewater/dwinfo/ks.htm

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Ground Water (subsurface) 

Ground water of the Flint Hills region generally has high total dissolved solids and high total hardness concentrations. The ionic composition of well water is dominated by Ca2+ and HCO3-, as expected for weathering of limestone by precipitation containing CO2. Magnesium, sodium, chloride, and sulfate are also added by weathering. The relatively high concentrations of calcium and magnesium exceed the recommended limit for hardness in drinking water in most cases. Ground water from Smith Cave is sampled regularly as part of the Groundwater Quality Monitoring Network (site I.D. 00017602) of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

Nitrate contamination of ground water is a serious problem throughout Kansas, believed to be the result of excessive fertilizer application rather than from natural weathering. The concentrations of nitrite plus nitrate vary from below the detection limit to above the drinking water standard within the Flint Hills. Dissolved iron and manganese exceed secondary drinking water standards at many sites. Although minerals containing these elements are abundant in the region, they become soluble only under reducing conditions. It is interesting to note that samples high in iron or manganese are usually low in nitrate; the same reducing conditions promote denitrification of nitrate to nitrogen gas or ammonia (Schroeder 1990).

ESU report on the Flint Hills groundwater:  http://academic.emporia.edu/aberjame/field/flint/geohydro.htm#ground

Surface Water

The Neosho River is the primary source of drinking water for the city of Emporia, but requires extensive treatment, including: chlorination, softening, flocculation, activated carbon, filtration, ozonation, and fluoridation. In 2002, the water supply of Emporia was judged among the five best-tasting public water supplies in the nation!

KDHE map of streams impaired with Selenium and Chlorodane in the Neosho river basin  http://www.kdheks.gov/tmdl/nevewaprior.htm 

KDHE bureau of water remediation programs in the Neosho river basin  http://www.kdheks.gov/tmdl/nevewaprior.htm 

Kansas Conservation Commission—2006 results of river and lake remediation programs sponsored by the KCC in 2006 and programs funded for 2007 http://www.accesskansas.org/kscc/images/AnnRpt2005.pdf 

ESU report on Flint Hills surface water (e.g. Neosho River) http://academic.emporia.edu/aberjame/field/flint/geohydro.htm#surface 

Reservoir Quality: Redman, Council Grove and Marion Reservoirs                 

USGS water quality information about all Kansas reservoirs http://ks.water.usgs.gov/Kansas/waterdata/climate/reservoir.html

KDWP information on all Kansas state parks http://www.kdwp.state.ks.us/

EPA report on sedimentation in John Redman Reservoir: http://www.epa.gov/fedrgstr/EPA-IMPACT/2002/June/Day-28/i16378.htm

US Army Corps of Engineers---Environmental Impact Statement on a 7 acres of land surrounding Council Grove Reservoir    http://www.swt.usace.army.mil/library/Council%20Grove/2005-05/Draft%20CG%20EA.pdf

USGS Impact of sedimentation on water reservoirs http://ks.water.usgs.gov/Kansas/pubs/abstracts/dpm.030502.html

U.S. Water News:  information about national water quality issues that include Kansas, 1996-2005 http://www.uswaternews.com/archives/arcquality/arcquality.html

US Library of Congress- US Senate 2000 Water Appropriation Bill by state http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/cpquery/?&dbname=cp106&sid=cp106pOPWa&refer=&r_n=sr058.106&item=&sel=TOC_292421&

US Fish and Wildlife report on a threatened species of catfish in the Neosho River http://www.fws.gov/ifw2es/Documents/R2ES/NeoshoMadtom.pdf

Kansas Conservation Commission—2006 results of river and lake remediation programs sponsored by the KCC in 2006 and programs funded for 2007  http://www.accesskansas.org/kscc/images/AnnRpt2005.pdf

Neosho Basin Water Committee Report  on water quality, 2004- http://www.kwo.org/BACs/NEO/min_NEO_093004_kw.pdf

ESU report on the Flint Hills geohydrology http://academic.emporia.edu/aberjame/field/flint/geohydro.htm

ESU report on Flint Hills surface water (e.g. Neosho River and reservoirs) http://academic.emporia.edu/aberjame/field/flint/geohydro.htm#surface

Solutions now in effect to slow or prevent surface or ground- water pollution:

KSU:  Use of riparian boundaries to enhance water quality:                          

KSU: riparian buffer maintence: http://www.k-state.edu/waterlink/Graphics/Reports/Riparian%20Buffer%20Maintenance.pdf

KSU: bioretention: http://www.k-state.edu/waterlink/Graphics/Reports/Bioretention.pdf

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Another important component of the local economy is the only nuclear powered generating plant in Kansas, located near Burlington.  The Wolf Creek plant is the largest single water user in the basin. For more information on Wolf Creek Nuclear Power Plant see the following websites:

Wolf Creek official website http://www.wcnoc.com/start.cfm

DOE-power plants operating in the USA  http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/nuclear/page/at_a_glance/reactors/nuke1.html

DOE- Wolf Creek power plant operation  http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/nuclear/page/at_a_glance/reactors/wolfcreek.html

DOE nuclear power plant owners:  http://www.nei.org/documents/U.S.%20Nuclear%20Power%20Plant%20Owners,%20Operators%20and%20Holding%20Companies.pdf

UCS nuclear power plant risks.  Wolf Creek is mentioned as a ‘better’ example.  Follow the website to the pdf version of the full report: ‘Nuclear Power Plant Risks: ‘Failing the Grade’ 


ENERON owner of Wolf Creek Nuclear Power Plant Archives    http://www.enercon.com/fr_index.html?/archives.html

ENERON home page http://www.enercon.com/fr_index.html?/archives.html

U. S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Reports on Radioactive emissions:

This database is currently being developed by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research to track annual aqueous and atmospheric effluent release data and offsite doses calculated for each nuclear power plant in the United States.

Effluent release data and calculated doses to individuals offsite are submitted annually to the NRC in accordance with requirements outlined in 10 CFR 50.36(a)(2). Further discussion of these reports can be found in Regulatory Guide 1.21, which can be accessed through the NRC’s website.

Effluent and dose data are entered directly from the annual reports submitted by each licensee. Questions related to a specific plant should be directed to the NRC Project Manager for that particular plant. General questions about the database should be directed to the Office of Public Affairs.

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission – Radioactive Effluent Database for Nuclear Power Plants accession number for 2002 ADAMS report at Wolf Creek   http://www.reirs.com/effluent/EffluentAAN2002.asp 

WasteLink: primary purpose of this site is to provide a reference source for radioactive waste management professionals, we recognize that radwaste is a hotly debated and emotional issue in today's society. Few other topics can polarize a community faster than the discussion of what to do with radioactive waste (or whether we should be generating any at all). Therefore, we strive to present all sides of the story in a non-partisan fashion.         http://www.radwaste.org/index.html

Health Physics: time, distance and shielding from radioactive material http://www.radwaste.org/hp.htm

Emergency Plan for Wolf Creek Power Plant- the Adjutant General of Kansas is responsible for collecting the fee payments from the nuclear facilities for whom state and local emergency preparedness is maintained. The Adjutant General must determine how these fees will be disbursed and must ensure that these fees are used for unclear emergency preparedness only.


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Groundwater:  For current information about groundwater levels and water rights, see the WIMAS website at:  http://hercules.kgs.ku.edu/geohydro/wimas/index.cfm        OR http://hercules.kgs.ku.edu/geohydro/wimas/query_setup.cfm

Surface Water:


For real time water levels on the Lower Arkansas River go to:  http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ks/nwis/rt

USGS monthly water flow: real time http://ks.water.usgs.gov/Kansas/history/kswater.hist.html

Drought Assessment: Kansas Water Office reports on drought http://www.kwo.org/reports%20&%20publications/drought/kwo%20drought%20report.htm 

KGS--weekly interactive maps showing vegetation conditions across the State of Kansas. The maps are derived from NOAA satellite data that measures how green vegetation is. Vegetation stress is a proxy measure of drought. http://koufax.kgs.ku.edu/kars/kars_map.cfm

Flood Information: NOAA Contact the National Weather Service  http://www.nws.noaa.gov/

Reservoir Quantity Information:  Redman, Council Grove and Marion Reservoirs:

USGS real time water data for reservoirs http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ks/nwis/current?type=lake&type=none&search_site_no_station_nm

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Nuclear Plant Emergency Plan

          Since 1980, each utility that owns a commercial nuclear power plant in the United States has been required to have both an onsite and offsite emergency response plan as a condition of obtaining and maintaining a license to operate that plant. Onsite emergency response plans are approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). Offsite plans (which are closely coordinated with the utility's onsite emergency response plan) are evaluated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and provided to the NRC, who must consider the FEMA findings when issuing or maintaining a license. For information about emergency preparedness read on.  (you can also click on the following website  http://www.nukepills.com/emergency-preparedness.htm   or download the Nuclear Plant Emergency Preparedness info as a PDF file. (Adobe Reader is needed to view .pdf files. Download it free here.)

In the most serious case, evacuations will be recommended based on particular plant conditions rather than waiting for the situation to deteriorate and an actual release of radionuclides to occur.

Emergency Classification Levels

Preparedness for commercial nuclear power plants includes a system for notifying the public if a problem occurs at a plant. The emergency classification level of the problem is defined by these four categories:

Notification of Unusual Event is the least serious of the four levels. The event poses no threat to you or to plant employees, but emergency officials are notified. No action by the public is necessary.

Alert is declared when an event has occurred that could reduce the plant's level of safety, but backup plant systems still work. Emergency agencies are notified and kept informed, but no action by the public is necessary.

Site Area Emergency is declared when an event involving major problems with the plant's safety systems has progressed to the point that a release of some radioactivity into the air or water is possible, but is not expected to exceed Environmental Protection Agency Protective Action Guidelines (PAGs) beyond the site boundary. Thus, no action by the public is necessary.

General Emergency is the most serious of the four classifications and is declared when an event at the plant has caused a loss of safety systems. If such an event occurs, radiation could be released that would travel beyond the site boundary. State and local authorities will take action to protect the residents living near the plant. The alert and notification system will be sounded. People in the affected areas could be advised to evacuate promptly or, in some situations, to shelter in place. When the sirens are sounded, you should listen to your radio, television and tone alert radios for site-specific information and instructions.

If You Are Alerted

·  Remember that hearing a siren or tone alert radio does not mean you should evacuate. It means you should promptly turn to an EAS station to determine whether it is only a test or an actual emergency.

· Tune to your local radio or television station for information. The warning siren could mean a nuclear power plant emergency or the sirens could be used as a warning for tornado, fire, flood, chemical spill, etc.

· Check on your neighbors.

·  Do not call 911. Special rumor control numbers and information will be provided to the public for a nuclear power plant emergency, either during the EAS message, in the utilities' public information brochure, or both.

·  In a nuclear power plant emergency, you may be advised to go indoors and, if so, to close all windows, doors, chimney dampers, other sources of outside air, and turn off forced air heating and cooling equipment, etc.

If You Are Advised to Evacuate the Area

·Stay calm and do not rush

·Listen to emergency information

·Close and lock windows and doors

· Turn off air conditioning, vents, fans, and furnace

· Close fire place dampers

Take a few items with you. Gather personal items you or your family might need:

·Flash light and extra batteries

·Portable, battery operated radio and extra batteries

·First aid kit, emergency kit and manual

·Emergency food and water

·  Essential medicines

·  Potassium Iodide (Order from Nukepills.com)

· Cash and credit cards

·  Use your own transportation or make arrangements to ride with a neighbor. Public transportation should be available for those who have not made arrangements. Keep car windows and air vents closed and listen to an EAS radio station.

·  Follow the evacuation routes provided. If you need a place to stay, congregate care information will be provided.

If Advised to remain at Home

· Bring pets inside.

· Close and lock windows and doors

· Turn off air conditioning, vents, fans and furnace

· Close fireplace dampers

· Go to the basement or other underground area

· Stay inside until authorities say it is safe

· Take Potassium Iodide if directed to do so by authorized health officials.

When Coming In From Outdoors

·  Shower and change clothing and shoes

·  Put items worn outdoors in a plastic bag and seal it.

The thyroid gland is vulnerable to the uptake of radioactive iodine. If a radiological release occurs at a nuclear power plant, States may decide to provide the public with a stable iodine, potassium iodide, which saturates the thyroid and protects it from the uptake of radioactive iodine. Such a protective action is at the option of State, and in some cases, local government.

Remember your neighbors may require special assistance--infants, elderly people, and people with disabilities.

School Evacuations

If an incident involving an actual or potential radiological release occurs, consideration is given to the safety of the children. If an emergency is declared, students in the 10-mile emergency planning zone will be relocated to designated facilities in a safe area. Usually, as a precautionary measure, school children are relocated prior to the evacuation of the general public.

For Farmers and Home Gardeners

If a radiological incident occurs at the nuclear facility, periodic information concerning the safety of farm and home grown products will be provided. Information on actions you can take to protect crops and livestock is available from your agricultural extension agent.


·  Normal harvesting and processing may still be possible if time permits. Unharvested crops are hard to protect.

·  Crops already harvested should be stored inside if possible.

· Wash and peel vegetables and fruits before use if they were not already harvested.


· Provide as much shelter as possible. Take care of milk-producing animals.

·  Provide plenty of food and water and make sure shelters are well-ventilated. Use stored feed and water, when possible.

Three Ways to Minimize Radiation Exposure

There are three factors that minimize radiation exposure to your body: Time, Distance, and Shielding.

·Time--Most radioactivity loses its strength fairly quickly. Limiting the time spent near the source of radiation reduces the amount of radiation exposure you will receive. Following an accident, local authorities will monitor any release of radiation and determine the level of protective actions and when the threat has passed.

·  Distance--The more distance between you and the source of the radiation, the less radiation you will receive. In the most serious nuclear power plant accident, local officials will likely call for an evacuation, thereby increasing the distance between you and the radiation.

·  Shielding--Like distance, the more heavy, dense materials between you and the source of the radiation, the better. This is why local officials could advise you to remain indoors if an accident occurs. In some cases, the walls in your home or workplace would be sufficient shielding to protect you for a short period of time.

What you can do to stay informed

· Attend public information meetings. You may also want to attend post-exercise meetings that include the media and the public.

·  Contact local emergency management officials, who can provide information about radioactivity, safety precautions, and state, local, industry and federal plans.

·  Ask about the hazards radiation may pose to your family, especially with respect to young children, pregnant women and the elderly.

·Ask where nuclear power plants are located.

· Learn your community's warning systems.

· Learn emergency plans for schools, day care centers, nursing homes--anywhere family members might be.

· Be familiar with emergency information materials that are regularly disseminated to your home (via brochures, the phone book, calendars, utility bills, etc.) These materials contain educational information on radiation, instructions for evacuation and sheltering, special arrangements for the handicapped, contacts for additional information, etc.

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© Copyright 2006 Wichita State University.

Wichita State University
Fairmount College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Department of Geology
1845 N. Fairmount Box 34
Wichita , KS 67260
(316) 978-7245