Rainfall helps, but much more needed
PRATT -- The past five or six years have not been good ones for lakes in the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks' (KDWP) Region 1, the northwest portion of the state extending from Salina in the east to Scott City in the south. Drought has plagued the area, and many lakes have been so low that boat ramps are several hundred yards from the water. However, a very wet spring is helping to reverse this trend. With more rain predicted for the first 10 days of May, many of these lakes could become the highly-productive fisheries they were in the mid- to late 1990s.

Kanopolis Reservoir, in Ellsworth County, may have benefited most from recent rains. Last December, the lake was 7.4 feet below what is considered full -- called conservation elevation. As of May 1, the lake had risen 10 feet, putting it 2.6 feet above conservation elevation and opening all boat ramps.

Every lake in the region has benefited. Although Cedar Bluff Reservoir, west of Hays, has only risen 1.6 feet, hope is on the way if rains continue. But the current lake elevation is 2,129 feet, almost 15 feet below conservation elevation.

Glen Elder Reservoir, near Downs, has risen 1.2 feet since December, making its current elevation 8.2 feet below conservation elevation.
The water level at Kirwin Reservoir, near Kirwin, as of May 1 was still almost 18 feet below conservation elevation although it has 6.5-feet since December.

At Lovewell Reservoir, near Mankato, the picture is somewhat better. This lake has risen almost 8 feet since December and is currently almost 6 inches above conservation elevation.

Sebelius Reservoir, near Norton, remains 14 feet below conservation elevation. Although the lake has risen 4.6 feet since December, more rains are needed to raise the lake to its conservation elevation.

Webster Reservoir, near Stockton, is in worse shape than Norton. Despite a 7-foot rise in water level since December, the lake still remains almost 22 feet below conservation elevation.

Wilson Reservoir, near Sylvan Grove, has a somewhat different story. Although the lake has only risen 2.5 feet since December, it is just 4.7 feet below conservation elevation, indicating that it has not suffered from the drought quite as much as other lakes.

For more information on Kansas reservoirs and smaller lakes, contact one of KDWP's five regional offices. These offices are listed on the agency's website, under KDWP Info/Locations. State park offices also have information on local reservoirs.