Taste & Odor Study

Photo of an area from the KS Watershed StudyPurpose

The Kansas River is a water supply source for the cities of Manhattan, Topeka, Lawrence, Olathe and Water One in Johnson County. The river periodically experiences taste-and-odor episodes that may be caused by cyanobacteria in upstream reservoirs or from run-off events. This study’s objective is to provide an advanced real-time notification system to alert managers along the Kansas River of changing water-quality conditions that may affect treatment processes or cause taste-and-odor or algal toxin events.


During the late summer and early fall of 2011, due to hot and dry conditions, Milford Reservoir experienced a harmful algal bloom and several utilities along the Kansas River detected microcystin (a toxin produced by cyanobacteria) in the raw water. A workgroup formed and developed a proposal to work with United States Geological Survey (USGS) to collect real-time water quality data along the river; identify the source, fate and transport of taste-and-odor compounds; and develop statistical relationships to identify factors that may cause a change in water quality.


KWO partnered with USGS, WaterOne, and the cities of Lawrence, Olathe and Topeka to cost-share a four-year study which started in July of 2012.

Current Updates

It is currently in the final year of the five year study.


For the five year study, KWO committed to $40,000 per year. Total 5 year cost is $835,000 and public water supply systems share $635,000.

Project Manager

Kirk Tjelmeland

KWO Office
900 SW Jackson Street
Suite 404
Topeka, Kansas 66612
Phone: 785-296-3185
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