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Facts
Sources of Water
Consumers
Water Management
Threats and Hazards
Stockton Field
Water Quality
Water Quantity

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Call 911 to report Hazards, Toxic Spills or Threats to Basin
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FACTS

Size: The Smoky Hill-Saline Basin in Kansas is an elongated drainage area, which extends eastward from the Colorado border approximately 250 miles to the vicinity of Junction City, Kansas. The drainage area of the Saline River is about 3,419 square miles, giving the entire Smoky Hill-Saline Basin in Kansas a drainage area of about 12,229 square miles.

Population: There were an estimated 103,000 residents in the basin in the year 2000, and the population is expected to grow to nearly 146,000 by the year 2040. 

Flow: The Smoky Hill River headwaters are located in eastern Colorado where the North and South Forks rise.  These forks join in Logan County, Kansas.  The Smoky Hill flows eastward to Junction City where the confluence with the Republican River is located.  Below this point the river is known as the Kansas River.  The Smoky Hill River has a drainage area of about 8,810 square miles (see Figure 1).  The Saline River, a tributary of the Smoky Hill, rises near the Sherman-Thomas County line in extreme western Kansas.  The Saline flows eastward to its confluence with the Smoky Hill River several miles east of Salina, Kansas.  

Information on water levels in the river basin click on the following website: http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ks/nwis/rt

Reservoirs: Three large federal irrigation and/or flood control projects are located in the Smoky Hill-Saline Basin.  Cedar Bluff Lake is located on the Smoky Hill River in Trego County.  This is a Bureau of Reclamation project.  Wilson Lake on the Saline River and Kanopolis Lake on the Smoky Hill River are operated and maintained by the Corps of Engineers. http://www.kgs.ku.edu/Hydro/lake_maps.html

Topography and Soil: Topography within the basin is flat to gently rolling, with narrow, shallow valleys and low relief.  The highest point in Kansas, Mount Sunflower at 4,039 feet, is located in northwestern Wallace County.  From this point, elevations in the basin decrease to approximately 1,087 feet at the confluence of the Smoky Hill and Republican rivers.

Due to the extreme east-west extent of this basin and the differences in altitude, the basin exhibits strong variations in climate and land-use patterns.  While agriculture is the predominant economic activity throughout, irrigation takes on added significance in the semiarid west.

Average annual precipitation in the Smoky Hill-Saline Basin decreases from about 33 inches in the east to less than 16 inches in the west.  Mean annual runoff also shows an east to west decline, from about 5.0 inches in the east to less than 0.1 inch in the west.  More than 75 percent of the precipitation occurs during the April-September growing season.

Economy: The local economy is based primarily on agriculture with some light industrial activity.  The major crops grown in the basin are wheat, grain sorghum and soybeans.  In addition the production of beef cattle is an important part of the agricultural economy.  Another significant portion of the economy is the production of oil and gas.

 

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Usage of Water

Ground water accounts for nearly 97 percent of reported 1997 water use in this basin.  Irrigation accounts for approximately 90 percent of all water used with municipal the next largest user at about 6 percent.  The remaining use is from stockwater, industry and recreation.

http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2004/3133/#N10048

http://ks.water.usgs.gov/Kansas/studies/wateruse/

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CONSUMERS

Agriculture

Irrigation accounted for 97 percent of all reported water usage (1997). 

Industry stock water and recreation accounted for 3%.

Municipal accounted for 6 percent.

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Water Management

Significant water management entities in the basin include conservation districts throughout the basin, the See-Kan Resource Conservation and Development area and 12 watershed districts.  By virtue of its responsibility for the four major reservoirs in the basin, the Corps of Engineers is another important water management agency.

Kansas Water Office Water Plan for the smoky hill saline Basin is extensive.  The following website will help you through the KWO plan.  It has a search engine to make your life easier. http://www.kwo.org/Kansas%20Water%20Plan/SHS_Basin_Section_081605.pdf#search=%22Smoky%20Hill%20water%20management%22

 

Ground water: is used predominantly for livestock and irrigation usage in the basin.

http://www.ksda.gov/Default.aspx?tabid=318

http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2004/3133/#N1003A

Reservoirs

http://www.swt-wc.usace.army.mil/saline.basinpie.cp.html

 

The Army Corps of Engineers, responsible for the operation of Toronto, Fall River, Elk City and Big Hill lakes  is an important water manager in the basin.  To contact the Army Corps of Engineers see the following: http://www.nwk.usace.army.mil/regulatory/boundary.htm

KWO report on storage and marketing of water in eastern Kansas.  Includes Redman, Council Grove and Marion Lakes.  http://www.kwo.org/Reports%20&%20Publications/Rpt_2004_wmktg_annual_rpt_081505_he.pdf

 

Army Corps of Engineers operations in Kansas                                                   http://www.answers.com/topic/lakes-reservoirs-and-dams-in-kansas

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Threats and Hazards
 

Quality

Ground Water (subsurface) 

Ground water of the High Plains region generally has high total dissolved solids and high total hardness concentrations and is running out in many areas.

 

Surface Water Quality:

Reservoir Quality: http://www.kdwp.state.ks.us/

Solutions to Surface water pollution:

·         KSU:  Use of riparian boundaries to enhance water quality: http://www.k-state.edu/waterlink/Graphics/Reports/MF2489.pdf

·         KSU: riparian buffer maintence: http://www.k-state.edu/waterlink/Graphics/Reports/Riparian%20Buffer%20Maintenance.pdf

·         KSU bioretention: http://www.k-state.edu/waterlink/Graphics/Reports/Bioretention.pdf

·         USGS water quality information about all Kansas reservoirs http://ks.water.usgs.gov/Kansas/waterdata/climate/reservoir.htm

 

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Stockton Field

The Stockton Field office is one of four DWR field offices.  The area contains water rights from both surface and groundwater sources.  The majority of the water rights are associated with irrigation. Under the supervision of a Water Commissioner, the field office staff act as agents of the Chief Engineer to monitor and regulate the use of water according to the Kansas Water Appropriation Act, the Groundwater Management Act, and the rules and regulations dealing with water administration within the boundaries shown on the map below.

There are three Intensive Groundwater Use Control areas (IGUCA) in the Stockton Field Office area.

1.      Hays IGUCA: The Hays IGUCA was established in July of 1985. It provided some measure of regulation of domestic users in Hays in an effort to regulate waste of water. It further provided a mechanism by which the City of Hays could regulate certain water uses.

2.      Lower Smoky Hill IGUCA: The Lower Smoky Hill IGUCA was established in November 1983. It reduced the quantities authorized to be diverted by both the irrigation community and the municipal users which diverted water from that area below Cedar Bluff Dam and the confluence of the Smoky Hill River with Big Creek. These diversions were limited on the basis of their consumptive use. Irrigators were generally limited to 15 inches of irrigation per year, and municipalities limited to 90 percent of their highest use for a given period. At the time the Lower Smoky Hill IGUCA was established, the affected community requested DWR to investigate those water users upstream of Cedar Bluff Dam.

  1. Upper Smoky Hill IGUCA: The Upper Smoky Hill IGUCA was established in July 1988. It limited the approval of any new applications approved to divert water from the Smoky Hill River Basin above Cedar Bluff Dam to the headwaters near the Colorado border, to not more than 25 acre-feet or 50 gallons per minute. It did not limit or reduce any of the existing water rights.

Much of the Stockton Field Office area has been subject to water right administration during the irrigation season from 1960 through the 1990s. In 1984, the Chief Engineer closed much of the area to new appropriations. Generally, closed areas were defined as the surface water and groundwater of Beaver Creek, Sappa Creek, Prairie Dog Creek, the North and South Forks of the Solomon River, and Big Creek, as well as the surface water and groundwater of their tributaries. These areas remain closed to new appropriations.

The Stockton Field Office also protects diversion from five Irrigation Districts delivering water from five U.S. Bureau of Reclamation reservoirs in Kansas and one Corps of Engineers reservoir in Nebraska. These Irrigation Districts hold water rights to divert nearly 270,000 acre-feet of water.

The Northwest Kansas Groundwater Management District No. 4 covers all or parts of Cheyenne, Rawlins, Decatur, Sherman, Thomas, Sheridan, Graham, Wallace, Logan and Gove counties in the Stockton Field Office area. Groundwater Management Districts provide local representation of water users. 

Links to other related sites:

Irrigation Districts:

  • Almena Irrigation District
    Box 275 Almena, KS. 67622
    785-669-2390
  • Kirwin Irrigation District
    Andy Wilson MGR.
    PO Box 660
    Gaylord KS 67638
    785-697-2273
  • Webster Irrigation District
    Andy Wilson MGR.
    PO Box 660
    Gaylord KS 67638
    785-697-2273
  • Kansas Bostwick Irrigation District
    Kenny Nelson MGR
    PO Box 165
    Courtland KS 66939-0165
    785-374 4514
  • Glen Elder Irrigation District
    Dale Konzem PRES.
    PO Box 471
    Beloit KS 67420
    785-738-3092

 

 

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WATER QUALITY

ach Public Water System should provide a Consumer Confidence Report of water quality to the KDHE and the EPA:

Information about Kansas public water supplies can be found at:

To find out what is in your local drinking water follow the websites below:
Drill down’ from the top using EPA websites that follow:

 

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Water Quantity

Groundwater:

For current information about groundwater levels and water rights, see the WIMAS website: http://hercules.kgs.ku.edu/geohydro/wimas/index.cfm  OR

http://hercules.kgs.ku.edu/geohydro/wimas/query_setup.cfm

Surface Water

Streams:

Flood and Drought Information:

  For real time water levels on the Lower Arkansas River click on the following website:  http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ks/nwis/rt

 USGS monthly water flow: real time    http://ks.water.usgs.gov/Kansas/history/kswater.hist.html

NOAA advance prediction service for MDC river http://www.crh.noaa.gov/ahps2/hydrograph.php?wfo=top&gage=qnmk1&view=1,1,1,1,1,1

Drought Assessment:

Kansas Water Office reports on drought http://www.kwo.org/reports%20&%20publications/drought/kwo%20drought%20report.htm 

         

KGS--weekly interactive maps showing vegetation conditions across the State of Kansas. The maps are derived from NOAA satellite data that measures how green vegetation is. Vegetation stress is a proxy measure of drought.

http://koufax.kgs.ku.edu/kars/kars_map.cfm

         

Army Corps of Engineers drought management plan 1994: http://www.drought.unl.edu/plan/handbook/nds8.pdf

 

Flood Information:

NOAA Contact the National Weather Service: http://www.nws.noaa.gov/                             

 

Reservoir Quantity Information:  El Dorado and Whitewater Reservoir:

USGS real time water data for reservoirs http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ks/nwis/current?type=lake&type=none&search_site_no_station_nm

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© Copyright 2006 Wichita State University.

Wichita State University
Fairmount College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Department of Geology
1845 N. Fairmount Box 34
Wichita , KS 67260
(316) 978-7245
cehh@wichita.edu