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Archive for Friday, September 13, 2002

Republican River near record lows

September 13, 2002

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— Stream flow in the Republican River in north-central Kansas has been reduced to levels not seen since the Dust Bowl days gripped the Midwest nearly 70 years ago, the U.S. Geological Survey said Thursday.

Jim Putnam, a Geological Survey hydrologist based in Lawrence, said flow on the Republican at Concordia was 6 cubic feet per second Wednesday, 2 cubic feet per second lower than the previous record set Sept. 2, 1953. Minimum desirable stream flow on the Republic is 80 cubic feet per second.

Records show the Republican has gone dry before, with no flow reported Aug. 10, 1934, at Clay Center, Putnam said.

The stream gauge that monitors the Republican's flow at Concordia has been in operation since October 1945. The Republican is the main source of water for Milford Lake, which is down 5 feet and within 1.5 feet of its record low set in 1988.

However, conditions on the Republic are not isolated.

In the latest drought report from the Kansas Water Office, as many as 60 of the 106 gauge stations reported below-normal flows, a number that has been steadily increasing since late August. Those stations are primarily in eastern and central Kansas.

"About 70 percent of the USGS stream gauges in Kansas with more than 30 years of record are flowing below normal," Putnam said.

Other lakes with low levels include Tuttle Creek near Manhattan and Perry Lake northwest of Lawrence, both of which are down close to 5 feet. The Water Office said low water levels had posed problems for recreational use at Milford and Perry lakes.

Putnam said Perry was less than half a foot from its record low set Nov. 14, 1991.

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