US Army Corps of Engineers
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Extremely low inflows result in record low levels at Clinton Lake

Published Dec. 5, 2013

LAWRENCE, Kan.—The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Clinton Lake reports that lake elevation is currently at elevation 871.55, which is 4 feet below the normal multipurpose pool elevation. This is the lowest lake elevation since the lake was first filled in 1981. The previous recorded low was 871.6 in August of 1989.

“Inflow into the lake has been well below average since the summer of 2011,” said Sue Gehrt, operations project manager at Clinton Lake. “Although there has been some rainfall in the area this year, the larger rainfalls have missed the upper Wakarusa River Basin which provides run-off into the lake.”

The Wakarusa River Basin above Clinton Lake covers a 367-square mile area west of the lake and south of Topeka.

So far in 2013, January through November inflow has been 22 percent of average with a total of 34,083 acre-feet of inflow compared to the historic average of 156,043 for January through November. These low inflows equate to a very severe 50-year drought condition. Inflow in 2012 was also extremely low at 19 percent of average with only 31,588 acre-feet of inflow compared to the historic average annual inflow of 163,603 acre-feet.

If inflows into the lake continue to be below average, the lake level at Clinton Lake will continue to drop because of routine withdrawals from the lake due to evaporation, water supply, and minimum stream flow releases. Withdrawals from the lake through November 2013 totaled 36,632 acre-feet—50 percent due to evaporation losses, 24 percent for water supply for Lawrence and the rural water districts around the lake, and  26 percent for minimum stream flow release to the Wakarusa River downstream of the dam. 

“There is still plenty of water in the lake for boating and fishing” said Gehrt. “All of the boat ramps in the Corps’ Bloomington Park and the Clinton State Park are open. Some of the smaller fishing boat ramps in the Clinton Wildlife area are not accessible due to the low lake level. We do ask that boaters be extra cautious and watch for shallow water obstructions.”

For additional information, contact the Clinton Lake Project Office at (785) 843-7665.

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Release no. PA-2013-73