Kansas Reservoir Protection Initiative Tour Focused Above Tuttle Creek Reservoir

Lands showcased utilizing assistance to enhance reservoir sedimentation reduction

In August Gov/ Jeff Colyer announced an initiative to enhance sediment reduction efforts above four federal reservoirs including Fall River, Kanopolis, John Redmond and Tuttle Creek due to these reservoirs having lost 35, 39, 40 and 46 percent of their water supply storage, respectively. Approximately 100 applications were submitted for the initiative program with the majority of applicants located in the Tuttle Creek watershed.

Last week more than 20 folks from the Kansas Department of Agriculture-Division of Conservation, Kansas Department of Health and Environment and Marshall County Conservation District joined Lt. Governor Tracey Mann and Kansas Water Office Director Tracy Streeter for a field tour visiting with producers in Marshall County who are part of this program.

“Ag producers in the Tuttle Creek drainage historically have done a great job of controlling soil erosion, yet we continue to lose water supply storage at an average rate of nearly 3,800 acre-feet per year,” said Streeter.  “I’m pleased with the number of participants in the Initiative in Marshall County and hope to see future increases in the number of producers utilizing no-till and cover crops above our water supply lakes. After visiting with some of the participants in the Initiative, these practices seem to have the most economical benefit at the farm while increasing the soil’s ability to store additional runoff and thus reduce the sedimentation rate in Tuttle Creek.”

Lands located in targeted sub-watersheds in Butler, Coffey, Ellsworth, Greenwood, Lyon, Marshall, Nemaha and Washington Counties were eligible for assistance. The types of eligible practices available within the initiative provide the opportunity to positively impact downstream water supplies by reducing erosion at the field level. More than half of the applicants in the initiative are in Marshall County.

Evan Meyer of rural Axtell in the Tuttle Creek Watershed is a young farmer just getting started with his farming operation and submitted during the initial application period to participate in the program. He has seen the benefits of cover crops from his surrounding neighbors and his father. “This is my second year to plant cover crops and have seen key benefits to incorporating this into my operation,” Meyer shared. “Not only have I seen weed suppression and increased soil moisture but my input costs have decreased because less fertilizer is needed.”

Meyer has been able to maximize the benefits of cover crops with his cattle as well. Meyer plans to use the cover crops to feed about 80 head of cattle on the 75-acre field yet this year. Bringing cattle into the equation means he will be able to improve his bottom line while his actions will lead to improved water quality leaving the property.

The tour show cased three producers and each shared similar testimonies, experiencing less run off of soil, increased organic matter and soil moisture. One producer shared they’ve seen rainfall patterns change over the years as more large-rain events take and he has found his field to be able to capture the moisture better with cover crops.

The Kansas Reservoir Protection Initiative was funded by the 2018 Kansas Legislature as part of a partial restoration of the State Water Plan Fund to address priority Kansas Water Vision projects recommended by the Kansas Water Authority.  The KWO, KDA-DOC, KDHE and the Kansas, Neosho, Smoky Hill-Saline and Verdigris Regional Advisory Committees collaborated to prioritize projects that would yield the greatest sediment reduction per dollar invested.   

For more information about the Initiative, visit www.kwo.ks.gov.