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Water levels steady for Wichita area despite severe drought

Wichita-Hutchinson Plus KWCH-DT 9/23/2022 Alex Jirgens, KWCH Staff
Augusta City Lake in Augusta, Kansas © Provided by Wichita-Hutchinson Plus KWCH-DT Augusta City Lake in Augusta, Kansas

AUGUSTA, Kan. (KWCH) - Some Kansas communities are asking residents to conserve water as this summer’s long stretch of hot, dry weather impacts water sources. The situation is serious, but not dire for the Wichita metro area. An example is at the August City Lake where water levels are lower than usual, but overall in the area, water supplies are stable.

Driving around Augusta City Lake, water levels are low enough for branches to rest along the shoreline, and grass areas to be uncovered. This spring, the lake actually had a surplus of water, the city said.

Augusta City Manager Josh Shaw said that some water was released as part of a maintenance project.

“We have a few projects that we’re working on that the lake level impacts,” Shaw said. “Part of the reason the lake is down is actually by our doing on purpose, that’s not drought-related.”

With that, the drought certainly doesn’t help, but Augusta City Lake isn’t the city’s main water source, as it only supplies about one-third of the city’s water supply. Augusta utilizes El Dorado Lake as its primary water source.

“We’re fortunate that our primary source is a much larger, very deep lake by comparison to our own local options,” Shaw said.

While there’s no reason for alarm at this point when it comes to the drought’s impact on Augusta’s water supply, Shaw said the city is working to ensure its residents don’t go dry.

“It’s something we watch all the time and want to make sure the reservoirs stay healthy. So, we are hoping for some rain,” he said.

The City of Wichita gets its water from Cheney Lake and the Equus Beds. The city said there is still adequate supply to meet demand and remains above its drought-response trigger. Cheney Lake’s level is only about two feet below normal, while El Dorado Lake is about a foot and a half below normal.

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