Archive for Friday, September 30, 2011

Colorado reservoir closing on Sunday; water heading to Kansas, Nebraska

September 30, 2011


— Bonny Lake State Park is closing Sunday and sending almost all of its water to Kansas and Nebraska.

Colorado officials began draining the reservoir on Sept. 22, sending the water to the other two states to comply with the Republican River Compact.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife biologists are removing fish from Bonny Lake as it drains over the next two months.

Biologists plan to trap as many fish as possible and relocate sport fish to other public fishing waters.


Steve Bunch 6 years, 8 months ago

Is the governor standing in the river attempting to push the water back into Colorado? And if not, why not?

jhawkinsf 6 years, 8 months ago

Water's gonna go where water wants to go. Always has, always will. A dam can only hold it back for a while. Eventually, it goes where it wants.

DillonBarnes 6 years, 8 months ago

I think he's got a call into Moses, but hasn't heard back yet.

Bob Forer 6 years, 8 months ago

He only has the ability to walk on water.

George_Braziller 6 years, 8 months ago

The Arkansas River used to have have water in it. When I was kid we used to go camping on the bank near Hutchinson. There was enough water that I swam in it and my dad and uncle fished on it. The only reason it's dry now is because all the water has been diverted for irrigation.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 8 months ago

clipped from:

You wouldn't know it from today's appearance, but the Republican River used to have an untamed reputation. A flood similar to the magnitude of the 1935 event was said to have also occurred in 1826. In addition, floods of magnitude which threatened life and property were reported in 1885, 1903, 1905, 1915, and 1947. On May 26, 1885, 9 people were killed from the towns of Cambridge, Richmond Canyon, and Arapahoe; victims are buried in Cambridge with a monument. On June 23, 1947, 13 were killed in Cambridge and Orleans. Total damage was estimated at $15 million, largely because 7.5 inches of rain fell in the Medicine Creek watershed. When this flow mixed with the already-swollen Republican flow, it caused it to rise to a record stage in Orleans: 23 feet, 14 feet over flood stage.

Due to the fact that deaths occurred in three states and that reporting back in 1935 was not very efficient, the number of deaths attributed to flooding differs. An accurate estimate would be 113 killed - most reports just say "over one-hundred" dead. A reported 11,400 head of cattle and 41,500 were killed by the high water, and one report stated that carcasses littered roads as to make them impassable. In total, 341 miles of highway and 307 bridges were destroyed, and 74,500 acres of farmland were inundated. The damage estimate of $26 million is almost certainly low - personal losses, bridges, agricultural, and railroad losses were all incredibly heavy. $26 million is equivalent to nearly $800 million in 1997 dollars.

And now, Colorado is going to remove the protection that the Federal government supplied to protect the citizens of Kansas and Nebraska from disastrous flooding. It's difficult for me to imagine that Colorado would have any excuse to not pay for all the damages to the citizens of Kansas and Nebraska after removing our only protection from flooding.

But, it is certainly possible that Colorado will be ever ready to close the flood gates of Bonny Dam with only two or three hour's notice.

$ 1 billion dollars = $198.84 per citizen of Colorado. Of course, since there has been so much development since then, that estimate is very, very low.

No one downstream of Bonny Dam is very happy about it being drained and thus leaving us without the protection that the US government gave us in 1951.

Bobo Fleming 6 years, 8 months ago

I thought that there was an idea that Colorado was stealing water that should have gone to Kansas. Does this have anything to do with that?

nut_case 6 years, 8 months ago

That is the basic idea I've been able to put together. CO owes KS water. We originally ask then to open the dam and draw off the lake. They said no. We filed a lawsuit and finally won. Gov Brownback then said they didn't have to drain the lake to fulfill the request. But then CO said 'yes we are and you can't stop us'. So now they are draining the lake. In essence, both sides seem to have reversed their we're telling them they don't need to do it and they are insisting it.

This all seems extremely bizarre. Though to hear CO tell the story, the lake is dying and drying up anyway, so they figure they might as well flush the toilet water left and get credit for it as it flows to KS.

Brock Masters 6 years, 8 months ago

Not quite - yes CO owes KS water, but draining the lake doesn't fulfill their obligation in the sense that more water will be coming to KS, it just changes how much CO owes KS. Kinda complicated stuff but CO's lake was drying up anyway so they really on this one.

coloradoan 6 years, 8 months ago

It is potentially worth noting that irrigation season ends, effectively, Oct. 1, so Colorado is done with it anyway, and Kansas cannot effectively use the water. Not a win for Kansas.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 8 months ago

I grew up right beside the Republican River in St. Francis, Kansas, which is only about 15 or 20 miles downstream from Bonny Dam. Sure, I know that in all the books it's referred to as Bonny Lake, but everyone that lives near it calls it Bonny Dam.

At one time I traced the the river flow route south beside my home town. I had a Huckleberry Finn idea that I would take a rafting trip south and visit New Orleans.

I don't remember every single little detail, but it goes north into Nebraska through a reservoir, then south into Kansas again, through another reservoir, and then it ends up flowing just below, not through, Tuttle Lake beside Manhattan, Kansas.

After that it flows right past Lawrence, from there it goes into the Missouri River, later to the Mississippi, and then finally empties into the Atlantic ocean at New Orleans. That's where I planned to stop and visit for a while.

It appeared that if I could get my raft to float in that shallow river beside my home town, it would take at least a month to get to New Orleans.

But, I knew my parents would never allow me to do it.

Dan Eyler 6 years, 8 months ago

I drank from the tap, not bad you should try it.

kernal 6 years, 8 months ago

"I drank from the tap, not bad you should try it." Glad to hear it's good where you live, kansasfaithful. What comes out of my tap smells fusty, tastes terrible and has things floating in it. Yet, it still beats the water in some other areas of the country.

With Colorado emptying Bonny Lake, will FEMA being changing the flood maps for the potentially affected areas of KS so those residents can get flood insurance and how soon?

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 8 months ago

Hopefully they will be able to close the flood gates quickly if the need arises.

About the flood plain maps, no, they are not changed. I saw the 100 year flood plain map at the bank for the small town downstream from Bonny Dam when I put my home there on the market, and there had been no change made because of the Bonny Dam's construction in 1951.

When I was young, the massive flood of 1935 was still in living memory, and it was claimed by many of the older people that if there is ever a rain like that again, Bonny Dam could not possibly hold it back anyway.

Plus, Nebraska would be affected also!

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 8 months ago

Yes, I did worry about that issue when I was planning my rafting trip to New Orleans.

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