The Kansas River is an important resource for the state of Kansas. The Kansas River begins at the confluence of the Republican and Smoky Hill Rivers near Junction City, and flows 173 miles to Kansas City, where it joins the Missouri River. The Kansas River Basin drains almost the entire northern half of Kansas, as well as part of Nebraska and Colorado (60,580 square miles in all). About 42 percent of the total land area of the state of Kansas lies within the Kansas River Basin.
The Kansas River Basin is the longest prairie-based river in the world. There are roughly 640 freshwater stream miles below all major dams, and approximately 100,000 acres of federally owned freshwater impoundments, including U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation reservoirs, in the Kansas River Basin. It serves as a critical drinking water supply for more than 600,000 people in addition to being used for irrigation, municipal wastewater and industrial discharges, power generation and as a source of commercial sand and gravel.
In addition to flood risk reduction benefits from the reservoirs (more than $22 billion in flood damages prevented in the basin since construction through 2018), there are several federal levee projects located on the banks of the Kansas River that provide flood risk reduction benefits ($2 million in flood damages prevented in the basin since construction through 2018), mainly to larger urban areas such as Topeka and Kansas City, Kansas. Additionally, recreation use in the Kansas River Basin (boating, kayaking, camping, picnicking, fishing, swimming, hunting, wildlife viewing, etc.) provides substantial benefits to the local, regional and national economy.