River to Reservoir

Going with the Flow

Kansas has several major rivers but few natural lakes. Many of these reservoirs, large and small, have been constructed to control flooding and store water for meeting community needs. Major rivers in Kansas include the Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Neosho. The state’s largest river, the Missouri River, forms the northeast border and provides significant potential for addressing Kansas’ future water demands.

Twenty-four large reservoirs were constructed by the federal government in Kansas. The primary authorized purpose for reservoirs built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at the time of their construction was flood control. Irrigation water supply along with flood control was a primary use for those reservoirs constructed by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. Other authorized uses, which vary by reservoir, include municipal and industrial water supply, water quality, recreation and navigation support.

Kansas has purchased water supply storage in 14 federal reservoirs. Water from this storage is accessible via contract for municipal, industrial and irrigation use. These reservoirs are an important source of water supply in Kansas, providing water in some manner to approximately two-thirds of the citizens of the state. Nearly 60 percent of the energy produced in Kansas relies on storage in our reservoirs. The state’s population growth projections indicate Kansans will be increasingly reliant on the reservoirs for the foreseeable future.

There are many challenges to managing reservoir supplies, such as protecting reservoirs from losing storage from sedimentation; identifying a method to pay for additional storage as well as operation and maintenance costs; and, increasing storage at key reservoirs to regain storage already lost to sedimentation and reducing or eliminating releases of water from Kansas River reservoirs to support navigation on the Missouri River.

Actions currently underway to secure, protect and restore reservoir water supply include watershed restoration and protection activities such as streambank stabilization, reallocation of storage and removal of sediment through dredging.



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