K-State Research and Extension


Federal reservoirs are losing water storage capacity. Economic analysis on Tuttle Creek Reservoir suggests that streambank stabilization combined with riparian forest buffers can save $42 million in annual dredging costs to prolong storage capacity.


Groups Cooperate to Slow Reservoir Sedimentation

icons>Legislative Report Small, 2011

Even an avid University of Kansas fan can see the benefits of collaborating with K-State.
Retired teacher Dave Royer of Arrington proudly wears KU attire and has a four-foot lighted KU sign in his yard; however, when he noticed the Delaware River eroding the bank along his cropland he turned to K-State Research and Extension and its many local, state, and federal partners to solve the problem.
Landowners across the state are concerned about erosion and sediment entering nearby reservoirs. In addition to being valuable recreation resources, federal reservoirs in Kansas supply municipal and industrial water for two-thirds of the state’s population.
In 2009, the Kansas Forest Service received a federal grant to use GIS (geographic information system) to assist the Delaware River Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy group to identify areas where stabilizing streambanks could slow flood water and deposit sediment in riparian buffers — areas planted with vegetation — instead of reservoirs. The grant focuses on the main stem of the Delaware River, Banner Creek Lake and Atchison County Lake subwatersheds, and several other watersheds that carry high sediment loads.
Marlene Bosworth of Sabetha coordinates the Delaware River WRAPS project and talked with Royer about applying for funding to repair the streambanks on his property.
“The eroded bank was vertical,” said Bosworth pointing to the reshaped streambank on Royer’s property. She explained that the bank was now sloped to allow vegetation to grow. Carefully placed boulders redirect the river’s current toward the center instead of eroding the bank.
Three projects on Royer’s property and four other sites have been completed. Eight more are designed and waiting for Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) funding.
WRAPS started in response to the need to address nonpoint source pollutants such as sediment. K-State agronomists, K-State Research and Extension watershed specialists, the Kansas Center for Agricultural Resources and the Environment (KCARE), and the Kansas Forest Service working closely with KDHE and the Kansas Water Office provide expertise on best management practices to improve water quality and reduce erosion. Forty WRAPS projects are under way in Kansas.
The projects are too expensive for individual landowners to undertake alone, but the costs are small compared to the expense of dredging Kansas reservoirs. The estimated cost for dredging sedimentation from Perry Lake, which the Delaware feeds into, would be $5.6 million per year.
“Perry Lake has already lost 25 percent of its storage capacity, and Perry isn’t the most serious case,” said Bob Atchison of the Kansas Forest Service. “A 2007 study found the major cause is stream- and river-carried sediment.”
Dave Bruton, a regional forester, works with landowners to develop buffer zones of grass and trees between fields and streambanks. Trees hold their ground and actually gain land mass during flooding, said Bruton. And trees filter out pollutants in rainfall runoff before it can reach a natural water source.
Watch the audio slide story at www.ksre.ksu.edu/Sedimentation
More Information: Bob Atchison, 785-532-3310, atchison@ksu.edu


Your Garden on YouTube
Since early 2009, about 100 how-to horticulture videos have been posted to YouTube, the K-State Research and Extension news website, and the Kansas Healthy Yards website at: www.kansasgreenyards.org.
The videos are part of the Kansas Healthy Yards and Communities environmental initiative designed to educate the public on environmentally conscious lawn- and garden-care techniques.
More Information: Deb Pryor 785-532-5278, dpryor@ksu.edu
Watershed Update
The watershed specialist program, a collaborative effort by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and Kansas State University, focuses on
  • building awareness of water quality issues;
  • identifying sources of water quality impairment; and
  • demonstrating, promoting, and implementing best management practices (BMPs) for water quality improvement and protection.
Since 2000, 675 producers have implemented BMPs, affecting more than 81,000 animal units and 51,000 acres of cropland.
More Information: Dan Devlin 785-532-0393, ddevlin@ksu.edu
Using New Technology
A northeast Kansas watershed specialist is using global positioning system (GPS) technology to build a picture of water quality issues.
Since 2008, GPS has been used to determine
  • the quality of streams on the Potawatomie and Kickapoo Nation reservations;
  • the effects of cropland tillage on more than 3,000 fields in six counties; and
  • the effects of sediment in three watersheds.
More than 200 Kansas livestock producers have used GPS to install best management practices to help them be better stewards of their land.
More Information: Will Boyer, 785-843-7058, wboyer@ksu.edu