Clark State Fishing Lake Spillway To Be Repaired

Clark State Fishing Lake Spillway To Be Repaired

TOPEKA– The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) is planning a spillway repair project at Clark State Fishing Lake – a popular and scenic fishing spot in southwest Kansas. The lake is nestled in a rugged canyon along Bluff Creek in northwestern Clark County about 9 miles south of Kingsdown. The $1.6 million project is set to begin in December 2018 and will take about six months to complete – depending on weather conditions and any unforeseen issues.   

The project is necessary to repair parts of the spillway that have deteriorated or been damaged. There is some surface spalling and loose concrete, seepage through the side spillway walls and rebar and wire mesh is exposed. The concrete crib wall is failing – a lower section is missing, and there is bulging and settling. The project also includes maintenance work on the lower tower outlet gates, erosion repair at the outlet structure, cleaning sediment and brush out of the outlet channel, stabilizing banks on the west lake road and at the east abutment and replacing the low water crossing downstream of the spillway.  

The intent is to maintain the lake’s prized fishery throughout the construction. However, the project will require lowering the lake level by 20-25 feet to relieve the hydraulic pressure of water in the soil pushing against the underside of the spillway floor and the side walls. The lake covers about 300 acres with a maximum depth of 36 feet deep when full. There will be about 160 surface acres and a maximum depth of about 15 feet after the drawdown, which should be adequate to maintain the fishery. If everything goes as planned, biologists don’t anticipate a significant impact to the fishery; however, staff will monitor the lake and modify management practices according to the duration of the drawdown, water depth and the runoff entering the lake after the repairs are complete.

Angler access will be impacted, as boat ramps will be unusable during the drawdown. Shoreline access will be available, but caution will be necessary at first because the bottom sediment may be too soft to walk on until it dries. Once the project is complete, the lake will refill naturally, which will depend on runoff from the watershed and to a lesser extent, rainfall directly on the lake.

Once complete, the project will result in a repaired spillway as well as improved fishing opportunities in the future. Growth rates of larger sport fish should increase as fish are crowded during the drawdown, and vegetation that will grow on the exposed lakebed will provide optimal conditions for spawning, fish growth and improved water quality when the lake refills. Additional habitat enhancements include the addition of 130 “Georgia Cubes” – PVC pipe structures that provide cover for a variety of fish – as well as brush and rock piles. Boat ramps will be repaired and some of the rip-rapped fishing jetties will be enhanced, as well.   

KDWPT expects this project to ensure the future of this treasured lake and fishery, while providing needed repairs and enhancements.