Gov. Kathleen Sebelius declared the Marion County algae bloom a “state of disaster emergency” soon after it appeared. But now that the crisis is over and Hillsboro is again producing water as before, it’s hard not to think that the real disaster over the past three weeks has been the murky decision-making processes abloom among our government agencies.
The algae problem presented a true public-health concern for Hillsboro, Peabody and Marion, but what it ultimately became was a test of patience as local leaders tried to find answers to basic questions-not just about anabaena algae, but about who has responsibility for the condition of the state’s water resources.
The federal and state entities involved-from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, to the Kansas Water Office, to the Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Emergency Management Agency-each had a stake in the game, it seemed, and a position to protect.
The water crisis seems to be over now, but a lot of work remains to bring clarity to the bureaucratic bloom that made the process of finding solutions so murky and slow. -DR