ATCHISON, Kansas — Projections are that water releases from the Gavins Point Reservoir might rise to 80,000 cubic feet per second by the first part of November, and rising continues to due to current natural weather occurrences.
Joel Mahnken, of the Leavenworth Public Water Supply, delivered that news to his peers on the Missouri Regional Advisory Committee during a meeting in Atchison Thursday morning. Mahnken represents the Leavenworth Public Water Supply, one of the entities utilizing water bodies within the Missouri River basin appointed by the Kansas Water Office. Portions of Marshal, Nemaha, Brown, Doniphan, Atchison, Leavenworth and Wyandotte counties comprise the areas represented in the RAC.
Kirk Tjelmeland, of the Kansas Water Office, and Mahnken agreed the average Missouri River flow this time of year is about 37,000 cfs and it decreases to about 10,000 cfs in the winter.
Although the impacts remain unknown, there are concerns the high water flow likely will be more of a problem when the seasonal winter weather brings on snowy and icy conditions, Tjelmeland said. The reservoirs are expected to remain high throughout the winter.
Michelle Wirth, representing Water One, a public water supply, told the group the flooding continues to present challenges for water department workers because they have to move flood barriers like sandbags and other things to deter the high water before they gain access to their infrastructure at collection sites and pump stations. WaterOne mostly prepares for 25-year flood incidents, but high-water conditions have been ongoing since spring.
“It’s a never ending battle,” Mahnken said of the process to gain access to water stations. A major water project planned in Leavenworth has been postponed due to ongoing river situation, he said.
Atchison Utilities Operations Manager Mike Stec said current conditions have likewise impacted the collecting water systems in that city. Currently crews are checking the rural water supplies. City water officials detected a potential cause for concern when a presence of some zebra mussels was detected. No live mussels have been found, Stec said. He expects the city will do a more thorough inspection to make sure.