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Wilson Lake Reallocation Study

Wilson Lake or Wilson Reservoir, completed in 1964, is in eastern Russell County. It is a reservoir formed by the 130 ft (40 m) high Wilson Dam on the Saline River. Wilson Lake was originally authorized for construction by the Bureau of Reclamation for the purposes of irrigation, navigation enhancement, flood control, recreation, fish and wildlife habitat, and water quality assurance. Due to the high salinity of the impounded water, irrigation from the lake was determined impractical and the reservoir storage originally reserved for irrigation became available for allocation to other uses. The management and operation of the lake were transferred from the Bureau of Reclamation to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Map Smoky Hill-Saline Basin

Storage Allocation

The primary purpose of Wilson Reservoir is for flood control, so part of the storage space is allocated for this use. Water storage space, often referred to as “pools,” is designated for other uses as well. Within a pool there may be specific use allocations for other authorized purposes of that lake. Based on a series of investigations, a lake regulation manual was developed and adopted by the Corp of Engineers for Wilson Reservoir. Wilson Reservoir was designed with storage allocated for flood control, sediment reserve storage and multipurpose storage (also called conservation). Flood control pool storage space is above the normal pool elevation of 1516 feet.  The storage space at normal pool elevation and is called multipurpose storage. The authorized purposes of the multipurpose pool are: 1) Navigation  2) Irrigation  3) Recreation  4) Fish/Wildlife  5) Water Quality. However, the multipurpose pool has not yet been subdivided; specifically allocating a portion of the pool for any one of the authorized purposes.

Sediment reserve storage was designed for 40,000 AF to be filled in by the end of the lake's design life, typically 100 years. The sediment storage is split between the flood and the multipurpose pools, 20,000 AF designated to each.

The majority of federal reservoirs in the state of Kansas have subdivisions of the multipurpose pool that allocate a percentage of the pool for a specific use, such as water supply.  In general, inflow to the lake fills each pool proportionate to the percentage of allocation.  For example, if twelve percent of the multipurpose pool were allocated for water supply, twelve percent of the inflow would be available to fill the supply pool. Diagram of Reservoir Design (pdf)

Wilson Lake and the Kansas Water Plan

The Kansas Water Plan has two objectives that relate to this issue and are in some part competing.  Those objectives are to “ensure that sufficient surface water storage is available to meet projected year 2040 public water supply needs for areas of Kansas with current or potential access to surface water storage” and to ” increase public recreational opportunities at Kansas lakes and streams.”  Where that balance of development of additional use and protection of existing uses exists is yet to be determined.  Within the Smoky Hill-Saline Basin Section there is also a more specific issue, to meet the changing water supply needs of the central portion of the basin. The Wilson Lake evaluation is just one part of the activities to determine how to meet regional water needs in the future and manage the resources available most efficiently as possible.

The Smoky Hill-Basin Advisory Committee and the Kansas Water Authority have recognized the need to explore options for additional water supplies in the region by the adoption of the basin priority issue in the basin section of the Kansas Water Plan.  Kansas Water Authority has also provided the guidance to gather information on supplies in the central portion of the Smoky Hill-Saline basin prior to contracting any additional water marketing storage that exists in Kanopolis Lake.  One part of these activities is looking at Wilson Lake as a potential supply source.

Wilson Lake Evaluation

The Kansas Water Office has received interest in additional water supply from three municipal users, the cities of Hays and Russell, and Post Rock Rural Water District.  Post Rock supplies water to many smaller communities and rural customers in the area. These may be seen on the Map: Central Kansas Water Suppliers.

A Wilson Lake Reallocation Feasibility Study is being conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at the request of the Kansas Water Office in response to this interest. Previously, numerous water supply source evaluations have included Wilson Lake and eliminated it due to the costs to treat the natural salinity of the water. The potential to economically treat the saline water of the lake was reviewed in the Wilson Lake Water Treatment Facilities, Concept Design Report 2004 - Map.  Some of this information will be updated as part of the reallocation feasibility study.

The Wilson Lake Yield Analysis Report, completed in 2004, will be used in the evaluation. According to statutory obligation, this yield was calculated forty years into the future using hydrologic and climatic conditions from 1952-1957.  By regulation, this time period includes the drought which has a 2% chance occurrence in any one year.

In addition, the Wilson Lake Water Supply Study Draft Environmental Report was completed August 2010. This study was conducted to evaluate the potential for impacts from using Wilson Lake to provide water for municipal and industrial water users in central Kansas.  A hydrologic model was used to simulate withdrawal of water for water supply purposes while the lake is managed at the current multipurpose pool elevation of 1516 feet, as well as from the lake operated with a two-foot pool raise. Information from the environmental study will be utilized in the reallocation feasibility study.

The reallocation feasibility study is intended and designed to evaluate both the positive and negative impacts of a reallocation of storage to water supply.  As part of the study, other potential sources of water will also be evaluated, as will the impact to local interested parties.  Impacts at the lake that will be evaluated include additional lowering of the lake level, water quality issues, recreational access, and associated economic impacts; among others.  The possibility of raising the lake level is also a component of the study.  It is the intention of Kansas Water Office and Kansas Water Authority to determine if there is the potential to use a portion of the lake for water supply while maintaining the majority of the existing uses and benefits.

The Kansas Water Office provides the day-to-day planning and information coordination with the Corps of Engineers to complete the evaluation.  Public input is an important component of both the Corps of Engineers reallocation process and the Kansas Water Office planning process.  Stakeholder involvement has been organized to coordinate local input along with the input at public meetings.   Public meetings will be held as information or study results become available.   It is anticipated that this study will take approximately 3 years to complete.

Stakeholder representatives provide local input into the study. They have meet in Russell on January 19, 2010, May 19, 2010, August 25, 2010, October 27, 2010 and March 31, 2010. Additional meetings will be scheduled as the study progresses.

Study Results and Then What?

The reallocation feasibility study will be a compilation of information and evaluation of options.   The study will provide a basis for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will determine if it is feasible to make water supply an authorized use. If the Corps of Engineers determines it is feasible to reallocate some portion of the lake for water supply, the state then decides whether or not to seek reallocation. If the State decides to seek reallocation, when reallocation is complete, the State would purchase storage up to the amount allocated to water supply.

The State does not currently own storage in Wilson Reservoir.  Should it be determined that Wilson is to be a water supply source in addition to existing uses, the negotiation and purchase of storage would be under the Kansas Water Office and Kansas Water Authority  statutory responsibilities.  The Kansas Water Authority would have to approve any contract with the federal government for storage in Wilson Lake.  The Kansas Marketing and Water Assurance programs operated by the Kansas Water Office would provide water supply storage through contracts with municipal and industrial customers.

Reports and Information about the Lake

Public Meetings

February 24, 2010 Materials - U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, KC District

February 25, 2009 Materials

The following comments and questions have been received regarding the Corps of Engineers Reallocation Study Process. If you have an additional comment, please contact Nathan Westrup at Nathan.Westrup@kwo.ks.gov or Diane Coe at Diane.Coe@kwo.ks.gov, phone (785) 296-3185.

Comments

I am the daughter of one of the land owners that was forced to sell their prime land when Wilson Lake was built.  I still have hard feelings about that even after all of these years.  It broke my parents heart to be forced to sell prime land for little money that was only enough to purchase substandard land to replace it.  Now, you want to use the water for other areas and deplete the water level.  What on earth are you thinking?  Why not drain the lake entirely and give the people back their land?  I, for one, wish we still had that prime land....it would be worth a lot of money in today's market.  We use the lake on a regular basis and would hate to see the water level lowered.  They knew the water was salty when they built the lake....that didn't stop them.  Putting the brine back into the lake would kill many things.....trees, plants, possibly fish, etc.  That is not the solution.  I think you should  look at different areas for water.  Thank you.


“As a dock owner & last user I say leave Wilson alone Hays is to greedy with water.”


"I am a homeowner located at Wilson Lake.  Please consider what selling water to Hays will do to the value of our homes if the lake goes down, the shoreline is replaced by trees, as it was at Cedar Bluff from irrigation, the lakes camping will decline as will my property value.  If the lake drops 4-6 FT from conservation, the camping will decline as it did at Cedar Bluff.  Please consider this before allowing “our lake” (Wilson) to be less enjoyable than it is today.  Thanks for listening."


I have just learned of the discussion regarding Wilson Lake water diversion.  As one whose family has had a cabin there for 20 years, and who wants to build a home there myself to retire in the next three years, I am shocked that such short sighted plans are being seriously considered. Why is it always necessary to bail out communities who can't adequately manage their own water use needs?  City ordinances imposing fines for planting certain grasses for lawns and ignoring times of or restrictions on watering,  and creating a nasty overuse fee to the monthly water bill (above a reasonable volume for activities of daily living), might discourage some of that.  Here is a summary of information I have gleaned just today.  I am sure most of it is not new to you, but perhaps the bottom line hasn't been adequately addressed:

Data at the dam, based on 44 years of records (CFS). This is outlet flow. I don't know what the MDS is.

  • Minimal flow (1968) - 2.8
  • Median (middle point) - 8.6
  • Mean (average) -44
  • Most recent - 129
  • Maximum (1993) - 448

One gallon is 0.13368 cubic feet, or 1 cubic foot is 7.48 gallons which is 0.00002296 acre-feet.

At 8.6 CFS, times 86,400 seconds/day, is 1.9837 acre-feet per day, or 724 acre-feet per year.

To make the math simple, use 10 CFS, which results in 841 acre-feet per year for every 10 CFS of outlet flow.

30,000,000 gallons diversion per day equals 10,950,000,000 (that's 10.95 billion) per year, which equals 33,600 acre-feet per year.  A 9,000 acre lake will see it's level drop by 3.73 feet per year.

Evaporation is said to equal about 5 feet of level drop per year.  Rainfall directly onto the lake of 24 inches per year would reduce the net drop to 3 feet per year.  That means that upstream surrounding ground rainwater run-off, at the same 24 inches per year and net of absorption into surrounding ground and farm ponds, must come from an area of another 14,000 acres upstream from the lake.

Asking the lake to reliably supply another 3.73 feet of level per year means that the alluvial tributary area must expand to include another 17,500 acres.  Also, as the lake level drops (in the short run) and as the lake fills with sediment (over the long run), the volume of water available drops (i.e. the bottom inch of water in a bowl has less volume than the inch above it).  See the minimal flow above.  That was the rate while the lake was filling to begin with, and it took nine years to fill it.

I recommend those considering tapping Wilson Lake for community water needs look elsewhere.  Consider how those communities would address their water use issues if Wilson Dam had never been built, and explore those resources.  Turning to Wilson Lake as a source of water for communities is short-sighted and will kill the Golden Goose that Lake Wilson has become to Russell County, the State of Kansas, and the US Army C of E.


Unfortunately I was unable to attend the public meeting at Russell some time back.  It is with some concern that I am contacting you.  My family and extended family have been patrons of Wilson Lake almost from it inception, I can not imagine the lake level possibly be pulled down to what I would consider catastrophic levels.  In recent past when the lake was as much as 7’ down, the are just did not look right. I feel that if it were to be lowered to levels we have not seen since the lake was first filled it would be a disaster for the lake itself, the community that has sprung up around the lake and whole host of area businesses. I realize that water is a precious resource and that the communities requesting this have a definite need, however if they receive this water draw it down to minimum levels and still need more then what? I certainly would hope that the Corp will leave well enough alone and scrap this study.  Thank you for the opportunity to contact you and addressing my concerns. -submitted 3/27/2009


Thanks for talking at the meeting in Russell.  I am writing to state my opinions on using Lake Wilson as a water supply for Hays/Russell/Post Rock. I have primary residence at Hays but also a cabin at the lake. I think that for 100 million we could drill some more Dakota wells and desalinate that water and not affect the lake level.  I also question the growth study stating Hays and Russell will have that large of increase in water demand.  Having lived in Hays since 1981 it has not seemed to grow much larger.  Also due to water shortages we have learned to be better stewards of water knowing we live in a dry part of the country. As on who has spent time at Cedar Bluff, Webster and Wilson, I can tell you that Wilson is the only lake that consistently has enough water to not be a hazard to boat and fish in. Please count my family as one opposed to using any of Wilson’s water to supply Hays/Russell. -submitted 3/9/2009


I was unable to attend the meeting you held recently in Russell to discuss the Wilson Lake water study.  From what I could gather from the information I was able to find in papers and on the internet, I am not in favor of the changes being discussed.  We are very limited with regard to the recreational opportunities we have in the state and any added uses that will potentially bring down the level of the lake is something I can not be in favor of.  I know the studies indicate that this would be minimal; however in times of drought these changes will be significant to the lake and will cause problems with docks and the wildlife at the lake.  We recently came out of a period when this occurred naturally and we had problems then without any additional water being removed.  I’m also concerned that with the reverse osmosis being used that the by-product of the removal of the elements from the water will be put back in water at the lake and make it even saltier than it already is.  Please put me on the side of those who do not wish to have this move forward. -submitted 3/5/2009


I was disappointed to hear that the US Army Corp of Engineers is even looking at a plan to allow Hays and Salina the opportunity to draw water from Wilson Lake and then I was even more disappointed to hear that if they do this they will be putting the salt brine back into the lake.  Tell me that is not so!!! A lot of Western Kansas people use this lake for recreation and it disappointing to hear that this may be lost.  I would hope that if they7 are allowed to draw water from the lake that they will not be allowed to take out more than a certain amount and on a drought year this would be not happen at all.  Lakes like Wilson were built for the use of people from Kansas and that mean all the people not just the people in Hays and Salina. -submitted 3/11/2009


We use Lake Wilson for recreation and we are 90 miles away.  Please be aware that any change to the lake will affect not only the communities near the lake but also ones 90 to 100 miles away.  We purchase gas, food, fishing supplies and etc. in our local areas. -submitted 3/19/2009


A resident of Hays and a frequent user of the wonderful resource called Lake Wilson, I am writing this to express my opposition to any consideration for the cities of Hays and Russell to sue water from the lake for their water needs.Those of you living in Kansas City have no idea of the limited water recreation we have in this area.  It’s much different from your end of the state.Hays and Russell spent millions of dollars to buy a ranch some 90 miles from Hays with the idea of transferring water to Hays and Russell.  What ever happened to that idea? In summary, leave the lake alone.  It serves its purpose for flood control (i.e. 1993), and summer recreation for thousands of western Kansas folks. -submitted 3/18/2009


I was born and raised in Kansas and lived there until 2004. I remember vividly going to Cedar Bluff lake and spending countless weekends enjoying the lake and scenery. I was a young child when the water from Cedar Bluff was used as a water resources to help the citizens of Hays and Russell. It was sad to see such a beautiful lake become nothing more than a pond that could not be utilized. I lived in Hays from 1993 to 2004 during the water rationing times. I must say the citizens of Hays and Russell need to realize they live in a dry part of the state and make adjustments accordingly. People do not need to water their grass daily! It would be a huge loss to the state of Kansas for Wilson lake to (be) utilized as a water resource for the citizens of Hays and Russell. It is a beautiful lake that draws people from all over the state to use. My family and I continue to use Wilson lake as much as possible because we have not found a lake in Nebraska that is as clean or has the facilities to compete with Wilson lake. I encourage the Army Corps of Engineers to continue to maintain Wilson lake as a recreational lake instead of a water resource for the citizens of Hays and Russell to water their grass daily." - Received via email on March 23, 2009


"I was looking through some old articles and came across the article written by Mike Corn in the Hays Daily News recently concerning using Wilson Lake as a municipal and industrial water source.  I know that this email is being sent after the deadline in the article, but still wanted to voice my concern even if it is after the fact.

It would really be a shame to see this happen to Wilson Lake, we frequently camp, fish, and visit the lake, it is one of our favorite destinations in the state and a family gathering spot for years.  I can't imagine that this would not affect the water level at the lake, especially in drought years.  We have experienced what happens to water bodies during drought times in the NW part of the state and it is devastating, especially when they are used for municipal, industrial and irrigation purposes.  The economy and general well being of the area and communities suffer from low water levels.  Wilson Lake has been the one place that holds up fairly well during drought conditions in this part of the state, mailing because it is not currently used for municipal, industrial, or irrigation purposes.  I know that a major water consumer is the ethanol plant in Russell and a lot of this water would be used for the purpose of making a profit for this ethanol plant, while I am not opposed to businesses making a profit, it seems like maybe someone did not do a thorough enough study on the water supply before building this plant.  The general public should not have to give up what is dear to them for the profit of others.

There have to be other alternatives to tapping into Wilson Lake's water supply, I hope and pray that all alternatives are thoroughly identified and research before making a rash move that will affect the area for generations to come." Received via email on March 22, 2009

Questions/comments on the use of Wilson Reservoir as a local water supply -

1. If Wilson Reservoir is used for a municipal or industrial water source, will this have any effect on the U.S. Department of Interior Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) Program for Russell County?
2. In 2007, the level of Wilson Reservoir was so low that the largest boats docked at the marina could not load at the boat ramps.
3. If water is released from the lake so that the water level falls below that of 2007, who will pay for extending the boat rams so they can be used?
4. If the water level at Wilson Reservoir falls below 2007 levels, there will not be adequate water depth at the marina for it to function.
5. The Saline River, which feeds Wilson Reservoir, is salty by nature.  The lower the water level becomes, the saltier the water will become.  How will this problem be handled?
6. If Wilson Reservoir is used for a water source, at what depth will you stop releasing water?
7. Wilson Reservoir has a slow regeneration rate.  If not for rainfall in above-average amounts during 208, the water level at the lake would still be very low.  In normal years, the average rainfall in Russell County is only at 25" per year.

"This letter is from the President of the Wilson Lake Estates, Russell Co. Addition.  I am referring to your February 25, 2009 water meeting in Russell, Kansas.  Our association of 42 land owners is deeply concerned about the water table being drawn down and affecting our water well.  This well is our only source of drinking water and needs to be protected from allowing our water table to be in jeopardy and causing damage to our well.  We are told from the Bureau of Water in Stockton, Kansas that a well with permits has the right to be protected, and we are expecting that protection.  There are other domestic wells around the lake that will also be affected.  It is not prudent or right to take water from one source and give to another, when there is water in the Hays area.  this issue being what it is, needs to be sensible about taking water form one source and giving or selling to another when it jeopardizes our water source for our community at Wilson Lake Estates.

Hays should be able to clean up the aquifer around them for less than $105 million, which is what this project is targeted to cost.

Another concern of our association is our housing and business area.  If the lake id drawn down to a virtual non-useable state, this affects our housing and business which is one of Russell County and Lincoln Counties largest and most steady economic growth projects.  This will affect many people, and most of these homes will be our retirements homes.

Some of these people already live in this are full time.  People chose this are, to live in a clean country atmosphere, enjoy the lake from their home and enjoy the water activities that the lake offers." - Received via email on March 12, 2009

"After your meeting in Feb. it should be very apparent that there will be many more people opposed to any changes in the lake water used issue than there will be for it.  If you have another meeting you will need a much larger meeting area.  The problem is that no one knew this was happening and even though you notified the AP, the info never got published in the local papers.  Now people are aware of it and I would be surprised if you didn't get a lot more comments.  My question to you is, Do you want these emails and will they get the same attention as if people write comments and send them to the Corp and who's attention should they be sent to and the address.

This is not just about fishing and recreation which does create a lot of revenue through jobs and related businesses in the are. This is about the overall economic impact the Lake Wilson has on at least a dozen communities in the area. The Lake has become an important industry for this part of Kansas and to destroy that just so some other community can have industrial growth lends itself to the questions of sensibility.  Before we send you more info on Economic issues that you may not be aware of, please verify that you are indeed getting this info or who we need to get it to. 

Thank you for your help on this matter, it is of great concern to the majority of the people in N. Central Kansas." - Received via email on March 12, 2009

"I would like to share some thoughts concerning using Wilson Lake as a water supply.  I think the most important component is sustainability.  The man that mentioned moving people back into the country from the towns is right.  The reason that both Hays and Russell and the rural water corporations are looking for more resources is because we have exceeded the level of sustainability for this area.  I feel this is due to people not using good conservation methods, but also from recruiting business that use a tremendous amount of water in production. I know this is done to grow the economy and increase revenue, but if we really do not have the resources to support those business, it's really a lose lose situation for everyone.

One of the biggest reasons to live in this area is because of the natural (or man-made in the case of Wilson Lake), and without this resource we would not stay here.  We own a mechanical contracting business in Russell, so that would be an economic loss.  I know there are many that feel this way.

Again, it is a matter of sustainability.  We, and many others, feel strongly about living in a rural area with good quality of life, and being able to use Wilson Lake for recreation, all year long, is at the top of our list." - Received via email on March 10, 2009.

"I was unable to attend the meeting you held recently in Russell to discuss the Wilson Lake water study.  From what I could gather from the information I was able to find in papers and on the internet, I am not in favor of the changes being discussed.  We are very limited with regard to the recreational opportunities we have in the state and any added uses that will potentially bring down the level of the lake is something I can not be in favor of.  I know the studies indicate that this would be minimal, however in times of drought these changes will be significant to the lake and will cause problems with docks and the wildlife at the lake.  We recently came out of a period when this occurred naturally and we had problems then without any additional water being removed.  I'm also concerned that with the reverse osmosis being used that the by-product of the removal of the elements from the water will be put back in the lake and make it even saltier than it already is.  Please put me on the side of those who do not wish to have this move forward."  - Received via email on March 5, 2009


"I live at Wilson lake and moved here about 2 years ago because this is where my wife and I wanted to retire once it was time.  The good news is that we are both still working and were able to build us a place to live at the lake so our Grandchildren and Children can come to visit and enjoy the lake sports even before we retire.  We have observed this area growing in popularity over the years.  I was in high school when this lake was built and I learned to ski on this lake as a young man.  It is my hope that the beauty and usability of this lake be kept in  place for many generations.

I fear that the use of Wilson Lake for commercial water will be the end of good fishing and lake sports and recreation.  We have seen what it did to Norton Lake, Cedar Bluffs, and others in the area.  The balance here is even more critical as we wonder what will be done with the brine that is produced from a commercial RO system.  If it will require an RO system to clean up the water in this lake to make it drinkable why not just go to the water table below us today that is fill but all salt water.  Clean it up and use if for drinking.

What I want to voice is our complete objection of using this lake for water to serve the surrounding communities.  Please keep us all informed on what the thoughts are but we are very concerned to what it will do to our lake for use and the economic impact to the valuation of the homes in this area and ultimately the taxes the counties get form these high property values." - Received by mail March 2009.

"I attended the February 25, 2009 meeting in Russell, Kansas regarding the water usage of Lake Wilson.  I'm a fisherman and spend some time at the lake.

This past year 2008 the lake was down so bad there were only a couple boat ramps usable; thanks to mother nature, we received a sizeable amount of moisture and the lake recovered. My concern is if Russell and hays purchase water rights that the lake will have a hard time maintaining a reasonable water level, for we have dryer weather in this part of the state than we do wet.

Lake Wilson is the best lake in Western Kansas and maybe the whole state for recreation, camping and fishing.  It definitely is the clearest.  Notice Cedar Bluff, Webster and Kirwin, in the past, they are nothing but a large farm pond.  I've fished them also in the past.

I recognize that these cities need water but they have dragged their feet on may opportunities and have spent tons of money on studies.  If the desalination process is available, they should drill wells as we have oceans of salt water below.

When you go to lake Wilson at any time, just observe the vehicle license plates, they are from all over.  It is a well used lake. Thank you." - Received via email on February 26, 2009

"Thank you for your presentation in Russell.  I was the county public works director at the time Lake Wilson was constructed.  I have spent 25 years as a consulting engineer, 25 years as a public works director, still work part time for a consulting firm, and have always been an avid sportsman. My brother in law and I own a boat and spend more time on Lake Wilson that anyone who attended the meeting, including those who live at the lake.  I am also a city councilman for Russell and have lived there for 51 years.  I am fully aware of the domestic water needs of the city, the surrounding area, and the state.  I also serve on the county economic development committee and am aware of the impact Lake Wilson has in western Kansas.

I strongly support the ability to utilize water from lake Wilson for domestic use.  I recognize that the mere permission to allocate water is a far cry from actually utilizing that authority.  It will be a very costly item to construct the necessary infrastructure to treat and transmit water and I perceive said construction to be iffy and in the distant future.

There is no doubt in my mind that a compatible solution between recreation, domestic use, downstream preservation, and all the other environmental concerns can be achieved.  I strongly urge the corps to continue partnering with KWO, KDWP, lake Wilson Assn., and City officials to achieve a unilateral solution agreeable to all parties. 

Again, I sincerely thank you for your continuing efforts." - Received by email on February 26, 2009

"Thank you for the opportunity to respond to the proposed use of Lake Wilson to supply water to Hays and Russell.  My husband and I have been boating on Lake Wilson for over 25 years. As a child my husband and his family boated on Cedar Bluff Lake.  I am sure you are aware of the condition of Cedar Bluff. I would hate to see that happen at Lake Wilson.  There are enough years at Wilson that the water is low enough that it becomes dangerous for boats in terms of running over ledges of rocks near the shore.  I hate to see the lake ruined.  There is not other places left in western Kansas for recreational boating and camping, with enough water and space to get by in even during years of low water.  We have also seen Lake Lovewell in north central Kansas. That lake has also been ruined over the years by to much water being used from it (I believe related to irrigation). The west is dry, maybe the towns need to realize growth needs to be limited by the ability to find sustainable water.  All climate models only seem to indicate we will become more dry over time.  It seems if Lake Wilson becomes a temporary fix as a water supply to a few towns, a wonderful recreational part of western Kansas will be lost.  We all don't seem to understand that we can't continue to live like we have an unlimited supply of water.  What permanent conservation efforts are those towns implementing to decrease water consumption, such as towns do in the desert areas of our country?" - Received by email on February 26, 2009


"Just another thought, at one time Fosil Lake on the south side of Russell was a water supply.  It has silted in and I guess is no longer possible.  Even full I think that you could wade across.  If upkeep had been done years ago, perhaps it could still be of use.  But no one was looking into the future.  Just making focus on today.  The way I look at it, not it's payback time." Received by email on February 22, 2009


"This is going to be a very had decision to make! Yes we need the water.  How do I explain my thoughts? I'm sure it has been checked out by someone.  1st. What is the life span of Lake Wilson currently? Considering wet and dry cycles, sediment allowed. 2nd. What has been the impact on Kanopolis Lake? That is an old lake and I'm sure it's life span is nearing an end. 3rd. Saw a T.V. program on Lake Mead for Law Vegas water supply.  Knowing that they are in a dry cycle, they said how long it would take even in wet years to regain what they have lost. That has to be scary for them.  Cuzz people just keep using more. 4th. Nothing is forever, not steel or even concrete. 5th. A decision will have to be made a one point in time.  Just glad I don't have to put my signature at bottom of the paper.  There is no way that anyone will know if we made the right decision for some years to come.

One more thing, check out the western part of the state with lakes and the irrigation channel west and south of Hays that I've seen, that has never carried a drop of lake water." - Received by email on February 22, 2009

"I am sorry that my husband and I are unable to attend the meeting held on Feb. 25.  We are going to be out of state for a business meeting. Even though we are not going to be able to attend, I would still like to let our voices be hears.  We are residents of the Lake Wilson area.  We built our home approx 3 years ago this July.  We have put a lot of work and money into our home.  The reason we picked our lot at the lake was the beauty of the area, and the return of value on our money should we ever sell our home.

I know that the Water Study has been going on for sometime now.  I will not pretend that I know a lot about the study, because I do not.  but, I do have come concerns that I hope can be answered.  I know Russell and Hays have had problems in the past with a shortage of water.  I understand the need for human consumption. . .

Water consumption is one thing, but using water for car washes, water parts/pools, Ethanol plants, or watering of lawns is another thing.  Sylvan does not have a pool/water park, or a car wash.  I feel if the water is used by Russell and Hays residents, we should have a right to control what they do.  Because they will be taking away the value of the homes at the lake, the entertainment for local residents and OUR rights to water for consumption.

Should these towns win and are granted water rights, they should be required to plant only buffalo grass or similar non water requiring grass.  They should close down there water park/pools (even though we have been to and enjoyed the facilities -- because if the lake is depleted, then OUR children do not have a place to go).  The Ethanol plant should be shut down, as I feel it wastes more than it saves.  Violators should have stiff fines that are enforced.

I also feel we should be compensated for the loss of value in our property as the lake is depleted.  I feel WE should have rights too!" - Received by email on February 18, 2009

"I recently read an article about draining Wilson Lake.  Just wanted to voice my opinion that some of us here in western Kansas feel this is a very bad idea.  There is getting to be less and less to do in western Kansas and a lot of us go to Wilson Lake.  If Hays needs water so bad, have them quit watering their lawns, etc.  There are other ways to save water than taking away one of Kansas' better rec. areas." - Received via email on February 16, 2009


"If water from Wilson Lake is allowed to be used for municipal or industrial uses it will ruin the lake and, over time, there will be no lake for recreation or any other use including municipal or industrial!

It's that simple. . . many people will try to make it more complicated that than, but it's not." - Received by email on February 12, 2009

"Several issues concern the people in the area who benefit from the Lake.  The Economic benefit of the Lake directly effects business in towns in a radius of 60 mi. Indirectly the whole state. As Wilson lake has become an icon for tourism and recreation the state and has 10's of thousands of visitors each year.  It is by far the most important resource in Russell County and possibly the entire North Central part of the State.  Obviously millions of $ have been spent by Parks and Wildlife and Fisheries and by the Corp and individuals and businesses to promote this resource.  The housing development on the east side of the Lake represents the largest new home development area in NC Kansas which has created a huge property tax revenue for Russell Co. and the State.  To do anything to turn this area from such an Economically positive into a negative economic growth area, I would assume, would have to be very concerning to a lot of people and especially those making the study.  We all have seen the effects of excessive draw downs at other lakes in western Kansas and it was not a pretty sight, for the most part they became totally unusable and the positive economic effect evaporated.  I know of know one who wants to see more water drawn from the Lake to promote other industry in those communities simply because they have over used their natural resources, it just seems to make a lot of sense to destroy one economy to benefit another unless there is significant benefits for the people of Kansas.  And I guess that is the question you study will show, will we be losing more than we are gaining.

The problem that I assume you are aware of is that our current inflows are not enough to sustain conservation pool level now, we are currently 2 1/2 feet below pool and that is after a wet winter.  One year ago the Lake was down 7 ft, and nearly all the boating facilities were unusable.

ON behalf of the Lake Wilson Area Association (consisting of 300 plus members and supporters) and myself we strongly request that study considers all issues about the area in an unbiased manner. If you will contact me when you are ready to schedule public meetings on this matter, our association will do all we can to help get a good attendance.  If you have not been out here, there are several people who would be willing to take the time to show you around so you can judge the issues for your self." - Received via email on March 19, 2008

"I represent Lake Wilson Area Association as well as my own personal interest in Lake Wilson.  There are several issues that concern a great many people in the area, most the fact that no communication via the media has been available.  We understand that info was given to the media however nobody in most of the towns areas around the Lake know anything about this study and they are the ones who would be effected the most.  Our concern as an association is that accurate info gets to the public.  Do you still have the press release that was sent to the AP so we can see that the people in this part of the state are properly informed.  The economic and recreations benefit of Lake Wilson reaches a lot of communities and businesses in North Center Kansas." - Received via email March 14, 2008


Wilson State Park has steadily increased in popularity over the past years becoming one of the hotspots for recreation in Kansas.  In 1998 we had 158,000 visitors to Wilson State Park alone and in 2008 we topped 401,000.  This shows that more people are choosing to travel to Wilson Lake for many types of recreation.  Just for comparison, Cedar Bluff Reservoir in 1993 had 108,000 visitors when the lake elevation was over 20 feet low, the lake filled up in 1998 and they peaked in visitation in 2002 with 289,000 visitors.  Now the lake is slowly evaporating and they are down 16.5 feet and had 114,000 visitors in 2008.  I believe this shows what would happen to Wilson Lake when the lake elevation continues to drop to a significant level.  Fortunately we did not see that decline in visitation over the last few years when Wilson reached a historical low, but I attribute that to excellent fishing, campground development, and special events held at Wilson State Park supported by many different people.

The economic impact would be significant if Wilson State Park lost 200,000 visitors due to low elevations not only to Wilson State Park but it would impact all of the area and communities around the lake.  Wilson State Parks revenue has also increased steadily in the past 10 years and in 2008 brought in over $275,000 in KDWP issuances at the park alone.  If you looked at our revenue in 2000 when we had 200,000 visitors you would see a 50% decrease.  Since that time we have added amenities to the park like new bathrooms, courtesy docks, and cabins, not to mention the improvements the Marina operator has made to the marina in the State Park helping drive the popularity of the Lake.  Our revenue does not reflect the many permits sold from the numerous vendors throughout the state as we receive visitors from all over Kansas and many states.

When you talk about pool raises, Wilson State Park has made developments at or near the shoreline to satisfy customer requests.  Very few campsites would be in jeopardy at the discussed 2 feet raise but there would be no room for an increase from a heavy rain or inflow.  Just a few inches more water or high winds would cause significant flooding of 25% of our campgrounds.  At 3 feet above conservation pool, the courtesy docks at the boat ramps are unusable, numerous campsites and campgrounds have water on them and one park road has water across it.  We also start to loose the protection of the rip rap placed all along the windy sides of our campgrounds causing erosion.

As the lake elevation goes down the same types of problems occur.  At 4 feet below conservation level the courtesy docks do not have adequate water under them to be useable by most boats, the rip rap is exposed causing erosion below the protection line, and campgrounds start to become too far from the waters edge to be appealing to the public.  Designated swim beaches are exposed and reduced in size by 50% and nuisance vegetation begins to grow.

Just 5 feet below conservation pool, one boat ramp lane is unusable, the courtesy docks are basically on land, and all designated swim beaches are nearly gone.  When we were low 7 feet, people were tent camping one bare shoreline where water once was, creating fire rings and other obstructions that were a concern for boaters as the water level returned. - Received via email February 27, 2009

"Would like no more usage of Wilson water be allocated." - Received February 25, 2009


"Insist that the end user communities show by performance (not promise) that they are regulatory water use as tightly as possible, first. 

Examples - 1.      Exorbitant water bill above house hold use quantity; 2.      Abolish lawns that require sprinkling; 3.   Fines for lawn sprinkling; 4.      Water conservation by industry."  - Received February 25, 2009

"In regards to using water from Lake Wilson:  It would be a shame if Lake Wilson ended up like Cedar Bluff.  It was a beautiful lake at one time too.  Taking some water is fine but taking it out on a regular basis is going to ruin the lake & all businesses surrounding it." - Received February 25, 2009


"Western Kansas has little to offer for recreational opportunities and a reason such as Wilson Lake is a wonderful plan for families.  Living in Hays we know about water restriction and we do value our water.  Please look into all resources for water and save Wilson Lake and keep it as beautiful as it is now." - Received February 25, 2009


"I am against taking water from Lake Wilson as it would be a severe environmental and economic impact to the area.  At the Russell meeting no one addressed the ten year inflow & outflow gallonage.  We have had several years that the White Bass could not get up the river to spawn as the water was so low and in 2006 & 2007 there was only one ramp that you could put a boat in.  Don’t drain the lake." - Received February 25, 2009


"Leave the water in Wilson Lake.  If you don’t then people will lose their property values, businesses, the impact will be huge.  The Lake can not sustain any Public Water Supply with out destroying itself.  Also - why did you have a Public Meeting in Russell, KS on 2/25/09 when you never intended to answer any questionsDidn’t make any sense."- Received February 25, 2009


"As owners of Lake Wilson Marina we are very much opposed to the use of Wilson Lake as a water supply.  The way our marina sets on the lake an 8’ drop below conservation pool, like we had in 2007, left 20% of our slip customers unable to move their boats.  If we would’ve had a 10’ drop below conservation pool it would’ve left 70% of our slips high & dry.  A 12’ below conservation drop would leave 90% or our slips unusable.

We currently operate 160 slips on Wilson Lake and store an additional 130 plus campers and boats on dry land.  If water would’ve been drawn out for other purposes during this time my operation would’ve been shut down, along with a lot of others in the area.  There are several bed & breakfasts, mini-marts, gas stations, bait shops, storage facilities, not to mention real estate in every small town in this area that depends on this lake for survival.  The property valuations on the lake will take a hit.  We currently have about 70 beautiful homes out here with more springing up every day.  I don’t know how many docks are in Marshall Cove but it would affect these people as well.

We all know Wilson Lake has a small contributory in the form of the Saline River and Paradise Creek.  We all know that Wilson recovery factor from loss of water is very slow.  We also know that for the past 6 yrs Wilson has been unable to maintain conservation levels for very long.  And we all know how important this lake is in order for our small towns and communities to survive.  Why in Gods name would we want to mess with such a beautiful lake relied on by so many when there are other alternatives.

I was in the oilfield for 24 yrs before my wife and I bought Lake Wilson Marina.  I know all about the Dakota section in Kansas and about its pollution from the oilfield.  I know from cementing off some of the Dakota break-ins in Kansas what some of these could yield in terms of water.  I say look harder at this sand formation found throughout Kansas and lets clean this water up for our use.  After all, we did contaminate it so its up to us to right this wrong.  Let’s not create another wrong by trying to pump a lake like Wilson with an eco-system so fragile.  Let’s create a right by pumping the Dakota section and cleaning it up.  Now that’s a feather in every ones cap." - Received February 25, 2009

"First of all the meeting @ Russell on 25th of Feb. was a joke.  You were not prepared for the crowd, we couldn’t hear people & no one took notes.  Why not?  First impressions say a lot & we all got the impression that it is a done-deal regardless of our comments.  Another case of Big Business squashing the working man.  We have worked hard so that we can enjoy our recreational time at Wilson Lake.  Why does that not matter to any of you.  If Hays is growing too big to provide their own drinking water- then they should stop growing.  Do not take the water out of Wilson Lake!  You will do for more economic damage than you will gain!" - Received February 25, 2009


"Water use from Lake Wilson should be restricted unless the conservation pool level is raised by three feet two 1519."  - Received February 25, 2009


"Being Lake Wilson Fans since the 60’s it is rather upsetting on its future. Having a house at Wilson plus a boat dock at Marshall Cove, we have witnessed how the small towns around has a great deal of revenue from the “Lake People”.  What will this do to their survival?  Also all the festivals and recreation & sporting events in which people come from difference states a Lake 10ft low wouldn’t be appealing would it?

I seems what is being proposed by using Lake water is a fast fix; what happens when the lake can’t supply anymore.  I am sure by then more population in Hays, Russell and Etc will need more.  What is the next step could it be this solution isn’t the answer.  Maybe looking into another avenue before spending excessive funds on the treatment and pipeline would be a profitable alternative like water from the Dakota Aquifer." - Received February 25, 2009

"I am against pumping water out of Lake Wilson in Wilson, KS for commercial use.  The economy in the area of the lake depends on this lake for there lively hood and way of life for a lot of people.  A drastic change in elevation of the water through out the year would have a great (negative) impact on this area.  Please do not go through with this." - Received February 25, 2009


"Wilson lake is one of the few deep & clear water lakes in the State.  We bypass a lake much closer & travel to this lake because of this.  Please do not allow the release of water from this lake for personal abuse or commercial use.  Preserve this natural resource." - Received February 25, 2009


"Wilson Lake was completed in 1964 to provide primarily flood control and for recreational use.  The high salt content has restricted the lake’s water from being used for drinking water and irrigation, but with new technology this is now being considered, but at what cost?  Our main concern is that the conservation pool be kept at a level that recreation at the lake can still flourish and not interrupt our boating and fishing capabilities.

First of all some of the economic impacts to Russell and surrounding counties that Wilson Lake provides the area will be discussed.  I have also attached a study done by John Leatherman and Craig Smith titled “Economic Contributions of Recreation at Wilson Lake.”  The historic average of visitors to Lake Wilson is a quarter million people annually with the average length of stay around 2-3 days.  According to a Responsive Management survey done for the Kansas Department of Wildlife & Parks, (Feb. 2002) revenue generated per visitor is $51 per day or $12,750,000 annually.  When the water level drops, the visitation figures drop, affecting the revenue generated by the Lake. Visitors to the lake spend money locally on gasoline, food and groceries, lodging, camping fees, sporting goods and boat equipment, and other auto and boat expenses.  That money turns over at least three times in the local economy.  There is an indirect effect of these expenditures which also occur as money ripples throughout the region.

As far as angler use at the lake according to the Creel Survey History report from 1975 to 2006 which is taken during the fishing period of March to the end of October the number of anglers drop significantly as the water levels of the lake go down.  An average throughout all these years surveyed show there is 33,777 anglers on a yearly basis.  The drought in 2006 where water levels were down significantly, the angler level dropped to 23,791.  According to the 2006 National Survey of Fishing & Hunting and Wildlife Associated Recreation the revenue generated per angler is $45.62 per angler per day.  Using the yearly average figures the economic impact of anglers to Wilson Lake is $1,540,906.70.  During the drought in 2006 when the angler level was down, revenue generated was $770,453.37, a significant reduction.  Water level does have a significant economic impact.

The Lake also provides jobs to residents in Russell County and surrounding counties.  Between the U.S. Corps of Engineers employing six full-time staff and the Wildlife & Parks Division which employs eight full-time and eight to ten part time, the annual payroll is over $620,000.  This does not count the number of other indirect jobs because of the lake and the study done by Smith and Letterman goes into those figures.  If visitation levels go down due to the fact of lower water levels at the lake this could affect the number of employees needed at the lake and lead to job loss.

Some of the other economic impacts of Lake Wilson to Russell County are the amount of property taxes collected on 59 properties and parcels including the Lake Wilson Marina.  $128,552.22 was paid in property taxes for 2008.  The lake paid in lieu of taxes $47,925 to Russell County.

Our main concern is if water is taken out, we need to know how much and the effect it would have on all of the recreational activities that the lake provides.  As one of Russell County’s main tourist attraction, what happens to the lake and its water levels affects not only our county but surrounding counties as well."  -Received February 25, 2009

"As a citizen of Hays Kansas, a potential beneficiary of the draining of Wilson Lake, I would like to offer my clear disapproval for this proposal. As a lifelong resident of Kansas, I have been going to Wilson Lake with my family since I was a child.  I now take my grandchildren there for the purpose of fun, family bonding, and pure enjoyment of the environment.  the draining of the lake for purposes of a water source for Hays, Kansas is unacceptable and the use of short-term thinking.  It seems illogical to me for the state to be considering  building a manmade reservoir in Northwest Kansas, yet be draining one that is already successful and heavily used as a recreation site.  In addition, the people of Hays have considerable opportunities for water conservation that are currently not enforced.  I and my husband personally conserve water at every opportunity.  Although we do have a well and an automatic water sprinkler, we water our lawn at the most twice a week and are able to maintain a beautiful lawn.  many of my neighbors, however, water every day and sometimes twice a day, even when it is raining.  I witness and observe water running out into the street and down the sewer on a regular basis, as well as those who water during restricted hours of the day.  In my opinion, until we set and enforce water conservation, there should be no effort to help those that waste water.  My step-daughter is currently in Africa for international studies.  She is learning the value of resources that are to blatantly taken for granted here in the states.  She takes a shower each day with one bucket of water she has to boil herself.  There are no flushable toilets and only 1 running faucet in the home of the family she is staying with.  Water is a precious resource not to be wasted.  I don't believe Wilson Lake as a recreation center is a wasted resource. It adds value untold as it is and should be utilized only as a last resort.  Thank you for considering my opinion." - Received via email February 19, 2008


"I am writing in regard to the issue of taking water from Wilson Lake.  As a camper and boater at Wilson, I am concerned about this happening.  to me, we should be focusing more on water conservation instead of finding another source.  As I'm sure you are aware, we have pretty much ruined the lakes Webster and Cedar Bluff in western Kansas due to excessive pumping.  What will happen when we have done the same to Wilson.  Will we try to find another recreational lake to destroy?  My feeling is that if we don't force farms, municipalities, and businesses that use this precious resource to take more steps to conserve, we are only prolonging the inevitable.  Another concern is how this will affect the wildlife population at Wilson.  Will the eagles continue to nest there?  I know these are tough decisions that have to be made.  I encourage you and others to find better ways to deal with our water issues that taking water from Wilson Lake.  Thank you for your time and consideration". - Received via email February 17, 2008


"Please don't drain the water out of Wilson lake.  As far as I am concerned you would be destroying the most beautiful lake in Kansas." - Received via email February 16, 2008


"The use of water for Hays and Russell makes perfect sense.  These two cities currently rely on the Smoky Hill River and Big Creek for their water supply.  Due to the naturally arid conditions and drought in Northwest Kansas there has been very little flow in the Smoky Hill River reservoir, when at conservation level, also serves to recharge the aquifer due to seepage of water around the dam which enters the Smoky Hill River Basin.

Had the reservoir not been in place the Smoky Hill River would not have had any measurable flow since 2001 and Hays and Russell would have been without a water supply.  Please make the decision to use Wilson as the water supply for Hays and Russell which will give them a reliable source of water and aid them in economic growth as well as helping to preserve existence of the fragile Cedar Bluff Reservoir, the only water recreation facility in Western Kansas. " - Received via email February 15, 2008

"I have lived in Kansas most of my life.  Lakes are hard to come by.  I have seen 2 out of the 3 lakes that are in my area being drained down to nothing.  Wilson is such a beautiful area.  My heart breaks to even think about letting communities drain our lake, when they have other resources, as making their own reservoir.  Wilson is one of the last lakes where people can take their families and enjoy all types of recreation. Boating, fishing, hiking, skiing, looking at the beautiful scenery.  Not a dried up mud hole." Received via email February 12, 2008

 

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