By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
GB drinking water safe
Water system soon to be in compliance
water testing
Great Bend officials want residents to know their drinking water is safe. Letters went out regarding the city being out of compliance with state water testing requirements.

There are two things Great Bend City Administrator Kendal Francis wants residents to know about the letter they received regarding the city’s failure to meet water monitoring requirements for 2020. First, the water is safe to drink, and second, steps are being taken to see this oversight doesn’t happen again.

“There was no risk to the water system due to this incident,” he said. “We are scheduled to sample in April which will place us back into compliance.”

Francis told the City Council Monday night the city tests water regularly for nitrates at its nine wells as mandated by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. “And we performed the test as required.”

The sample bottles were sent to the KDHE laboratory. “But, for whatever reason, the KDHE did not receive one of the samples,” he said.

Ward 2 Councilwoman Jolene Biggs said she’d received calls from people concerned about the letter and who wanted to make sure such issues would be caught in the future. “Somebody should have been on top of that.”

How did this happen?

A letter from the state asked the city to re-sample yet did not come with additional bottles for that purpose, Francis said. City staff overlooked the need to contact the state for the bottles, so a new sample was not obtained and the city fell into noncompliance.

“We were notified that the sample was not received, and therefore rejected,” Francis said. Typically, KDHE has sent a re-sample bottle. 

“That’s kind of how protocol has always been,” he said. “That didn’t occur.”

Francis said it now falls on the city to request the re-sample bottle. “So, maybe it was a little misunderstanding on our part.”

This created a secondary violation. And because of that, the city was required to mail the public notices.

On the bright side, Francis said there are no concerns with drinking water.

“Please know that it continues to remain safe to drink.”

Biggs seemed somewhat relieved, but secondary violation or not, people still worry. “In their minds, they’re not sure it is safe.”

“As far as how we change that moving forward, I think some of it’s just education on our part,” Francis said. The city now understands that KDHE is no longer just automatically asking for the re-samples, and that the city has to put forth the effort.

This incident occurred several months ago, Francis said, noting he wonders why it takes the state so long to make such notifications. “It does create a little bit of false fear. It puts doubt in citizens’ minds well after the fact.”

The bottom line, he said, “I think the whole thing was a learning activity for our staff.”