Project History, Post-Construction History
Floods and Droughts, Naming of Tuttle Creek Dam
River flow in the Kansas River Basin is erratic, varying from disastrous floods to equally disastrous droughts. Between 1903 and 1959, there were 25 damaging floods on the main stem of the Kansas River at Topeka. Interspersed within this time period were several critical drought periods. Regulation for both flood control and conservation has to be based on assumptions of a recurrence of these critical hydrological events.
Natural flows of the Kansas River have been reasonably adequate in the past, except in periods of severe drought. Industrial and population growth require supplemental flows from reservoirs, from both the quality and quantity standpoints. The Smoky Hill River contains chlorides and sulfates, so careful scheduling of conservation releases are necessary to obtain mixing with comparatively better quality water from the other Kansas River tributaries.
Too, low flow in the Kansas must be of sufficient volume for the dilution of organic and inorganic wastes, and at the same time, it must be of adequate quality for industrial and municipal water supply. Tuttle Creek Lake is often called on for releases to boost both the water quality and quantity downstream during dry spells. From 1968 to 2010, Tuttle Creek has made low flow releases of 100-200 cfs on 1132 days.