Eileen Hack, Frances Cross and Gale Salzman participate in a water quality monitoring project for the Hillsdale Water Quality Project. The project, which began in 1991, recently notified members that it was ceasing operations. File photo

Mark Taylor
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The Hillsdale Water Quality Project (HQWP) is no longer in operation.
The organization’s board of directors recently sent members a letter notifying them that the board has decided to “dissolve as a corporation.”
The board said factors leading to the decision were, “major funding cuts, reduction in membership numbers, fewer volunteers and excessive bureaucratic requirements imposed by state and federal agencies.”
The HWQP was established in 1991 by citizens concerned about the quality of water in the Hillsdale watershed, which covers about 144 square miles and occupies parts of Johnson, Miami, Franklin and Douglas counties.
The citizens were concerned about protecting the lake as a source of drinking water for more than 30,000 residents and as a recreational destination that attracts about 2 million visitors each year.
HWQP officials have long said that Hillsdale’s water quality is threatened by phosphorous, nitrogen, pesticides and wastewater discharges into the watershed.
Excessive phosphorus causes lake water to age by contributing to unwanted plant growth that reduces dissolved oxygen that supports aquatic life.
The result is water with a poor taste and odor.
The HWQP was largely volunteer-supported and received funding through paid memberships and a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Over the years, the HWQP monitored the quality of water in the watershed to identify pollutants entering the lake.
Subsequently, the organization initiated several voluntary efforts to control pollution within the watershed.
The HWQP also compiled an annual water quality monitoring report and submitted it to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the EPA to keep those agencies aware of progress.
“We fought and overcame many obstacles over the past 20 years,” the board’s letter read. “We should all be proud of those successes and improvements within hour watershed, Hillsdale Lake and downstream in the Marais des Cygnes river basin.”