Parks and recreation closed two Lake Shawnee coves today, here’s why

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Shawnee County parks and recreation closed two coves Friday at Lake Shawnee following a sewage leak.

While adventure cove and the cove near East Ridge Road will remain closed until the Kansas Department of Health and Environment grant clearance, other parts of the lake remain open. 

Blue algae also a concern at Lake Shawnee

Large amounts of algae could be seen in the cove near East Ridge Road. Parks and recreation also issued a warning about blue green algae in Lake Shawnee, which can be fatal to animals.

Parks and recreation are restricting summer activities around both coves. Camp counselors have been instructed to “not engage in activities involving the lake,” a news release said.

“We kept the kids out of the water and will until we know it’s absolutely safe,” said Mike McLaughlin, the communication and public information supervisor at Shawnee County parks and recreation. 

Last year, a similar event occurred at Lake Sherwood, which was the result of a failed pump the county was planning to replace.

Sewage leak likely tied to recent rains

The cause of this sewage leak is unknown, but Curt Niehaus, the director of public works at Shawnee County, says county workers have a good idea of what happened.

“We’re reasonably confident the problem originated with all the rain, which increased the amount of infiltration and inflow into the sewer collection system,” Niehaus said. “The additional water overwhelmed the system.”

Much of the leaked waste is concentrated in a small, narrow area of the lake. 

This lessened fears of the sewage spreading, as the size of Lake Shawnee is orders of magnitude larger than the affected area. Still, parks and recreation erred on the side of caution.

“Parks and rec decided to be cautious considering the potential level of weekend use of the beach area in the adjacent cove,” Niehaus said.

Alex Edwards is the local politics reporter for the Topeka Capital-Journal. He can be reached via email at, or via twitter @AMEdwards21.

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