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Could Pittsburg handle a new casino's sewage? - KOAM TV 7

Could Pittsburg handle a new casino's sewage?

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Pittsburg, KS -

There's a dispute over if the City of Pittsburg, and ultimately nearby counties, can support a new casino.  Some environmentalists believe the casino will adversely affect a nearby creek and river.

The local environmentalists say it's an issue that, dirty as it may be, needs to be looked at closely.

"They need to do that now, because in the future, it's going to be much more expensive," says Carl Hayes with the Watershed Restoration and Protection Agency.

Hayes is talking about upgrading Pittsburg's sewage treatment facility.  Hayes says it's needed for a new casino in Pittsburg.

"I equate that inflow of waste water from the casino to a consistent, steady downpour," says Hayes.

When too much rain enters the sewage treatment facility, city officials inform the Kansas Department of Health and Environment that excess sewage, whether treated or not, is about to be released into Cow Creek.  That creek flows into Spring River and is a major source of drinking water for Cherokee County.

"We're all in compliance with our federal and state permits," says Pittsburg City Manager Daron Hall.  "We have phd's and environmental specialists.  Our utilities director is a phd."

Hall says the excess sewage put into Cow Creek is cleaner than the water already in the creek.  Hall also disagrees that a new casino would add to the sewage treatment plant's demand, and increase flows into Cow Creek.

"The amount of waste that would be created by the hotel and casino is, I believe, less than five percent of the total of what we already handle," says Hall.

Environmentalists like Hayes, though, says if back flows happen now, they will happen more in the future, unless the casino pays for upgrades at the treatment facility to get rid of the need for back flows all together.

A KDHE spokesperson says the water quality of Cow Creek is not dangerous.  But the state agency does not keep records of how many times sewage is allowed to flow into the creek.

"I don't know if we have an accounting system where we count that kind of number," says Sara Belfry with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

According to the City of Pittsburg, the sewage treatment facility needed to back flow into Cow Creek four times last year, for a total of 18 hours.  The KDHE agrees with the City of Pittsburg that sewage from the new casino will be able to be treated adequately.

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