The Arkansas River and Little Arkansas River are valuable assets providing pastoral beauty, wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities to Wichita and the region. Over the years, water quality in these rivers has improved substantially with more effective treatment technologies, better land management practices, and increasingly more stringent water quality regulations. Nevertheless, there is opportunity for additional improvement.
Extensive water quality testing continues through the efforts of the City of Wichita, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the United States Geological Survey. This sampling provides data that further defines the sources of contamination detrimental to the river.
Different colored flags are used during the Wichita River Festival to inform the public of river water quality that uses the previously established criteria of three levels:
Blue - water is suitable for recreational use;
Green - suitable for use subject to advisory conditions; and
Orange - public use is not recommended due to an extraordinary events, such as high river flows and velocities.
These levels of Big Arkansas River water safety and quality information will be based on routine water testing information and flow data. The Flags will be displayed at strategic locations near the Douglas and Lewis Street bridges.
Citizens wishing to participate in river-related activities at River Festival should continue to do so being mindful of the water quality status flags posted on the Douglas and Lewis Street bridges.
Advisory Conditions include:
- Wash your arms and hands after getting out of the river
- Wash your hands before putting your hands near your mouth such as eating, drinking, or smoking
- Avoid swallowing river water
For additional information, please contact Jim Hardesty at (316) 268-8317. The Big Arkansas river is our Kansas river so we all need to continue working together to keep it as a community resource. Download our Water Quality Status Flag Program Protocol to find out what steps are taken to test the water.