TOPEKA (KSNT) – You might’ve noticed the Kansas River, which supplies water to more than 175,000 customers in Topeka, looks awfully low right now.
But should citizens be concerned about the river’s water level? City spokeswoman Gretchen Spiker says levels are adequate to serve Topeka.
With the world’s hottest day recorded in July and swaths of Kansas experiencing drought, KSNT News contacted the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the City of Topeka and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to see how the river is doing.
Currently, the Kansas River in Topeka has a water depth of just over five feet, according to data from the USGS. Compared to the historic low of 0.54 feet in 1989, the levels are closer to the 35-year median of 5.73 feet.
Three lakes are used to support the water quality and water supply flow to the Kansas River. Those lakes are Milford, Tuttle Creek and Perry Reservoir. Reservoir levels have been dropping as water releases are made to support the flow of water, according to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Hydraulic Engineer Biran Twombly.
Currently, Milford is at an elevation of 1141.3 feet, or three feet below the top of its multi-purpose pool of 1144.4 feet. Tuttle Creek is currently at an elevation of 1071.8 feet or three feet below the top of the multi-purpose pool of 1075 feet. Perry Reservoir is at 891.6 feet or right at its multi-purpose pool of 891.5 feet.
Twombly said the bottom line is that the system is operating as designed to provide a desired water flow and water level of 4.95 feet.
“If the pools drop further releases could be reduced further… There is still significant water remaining at all these lakes to support water quality and water supply releases,” Twombly said.
According to Twombly, if water levels drop below 1070 feet at Tuttle Creek the target water level for the Kansas River will be approximately 7.73 feet.
“While the city would like to see higher river levels, currently, the river levels are adequate for the city’s intake needs, and we are able to service our more than 175,000 customers in Topeka and surrounding communities,” Spiker said.