Clark State Fishing Lake Spillway To Be Repaired

Clark State Fishing Lake Spillway To Be Repaired

Updated February 6, 2019

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 project has been delayed, but it is not on hold.The $1.6 million project was originally expected to begin in December 2018 and be completed by summer 2019.

The delay came after engineers learned the project schedule would conflict with some bidders’ construction workloads. Subsequently, the project start date was moved to March 2019 and the bid opening was moved to January 8. Unfortunately, bids were well above the budget, so they had to be rejected. Another round of bidding is scheduled to begin in mid-February. If the new bids are in line with expectations and a contract can be awarded, the current timeline calls for the project to begin April 1 and be completed by the end of September 2019, depending on weather conditions and any unforeseen issues.

The project requires lowering the lake level to relieve the hydraulic pressure of water in the soil pushing against the underside of the spillway floor and the side walls. In late fall 2018, KDWPT staff began dropping the lake level so it would be low enough for a contractor to begin work quickly after a contract was awarded. While lowering the water level about 20 feet was the goal, the lake is dropping more slowly than expected. As a result, the project might have to proceed with the water at a greater depth than originally planned. If that were to be the case, there would be less risk to the fishery while the project is underway.

The intent is to maintain the lake’s prized fishery throughout the construction. The lake covers about 300 acres with a maximum depth of 36 feet deep when full. Depending on how far the water level recedes, there will be about 160 surface acres and a 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 depending on how far the lake lowers, and boat ramps will likely be unusable during the work. Shoreline access will be available, but caution will be necessary at first because the exposed 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.

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. 

Once complete, the work 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.

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