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Kansas Regulators Find More Than 1,000 Well Applications With Notice Errors

More than 1,000 applications for new wastewater disposal wells notified the public of just a 15-day protest period, well below the required 30 days.
More than 1,000 applications for new wastewater disposal wells notified the public of just a 15-day protest period, well below the required 30 days.

Kansas regulators have found that more than 1,000 applications for new wastewater disposal wells failed to give the proper 30-day public notice period.

Since October 2008, applicants hoping to get approval to begin operating wastewater disposal wells have been required to alert the public about a 30-day protest period. Instead, regulators found that 1,007 applications connected to more than 2,000 wells came with public notices alerting people to just 15-day periods.

That’s almost a quarter of the applications received during that time.

Matfield Green resident Cindy Hoedel was the first to suggest to the Kansas Corporation Commission that there was a problem. She says those well owners should be forced to give people another chance to protest.

“The applications did not comply with the regulations that are on the books,” she says. “And they should be shut down and they should have to reapply.”

The KCC is considering what action to take in wake of the investigation.

Since 2002, only contested wastewater injection well applications got a formal hearing. All others were either approved or denied by KCC staff.

Only three of the applications on the incorrect notice list received a hearing.

--Brian Grimmett is an energy and environment reporter for KMUW’s Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KMUW, Kansas Public Radio, KCUR and High Plains Public Radio covering health, education and politics. Follow him on Twitter @briangrimmett.

Copyright 2018 KMUW | NPR for Wichita