An aqueduct to replenish the Ogallala?

Wayne Bossert, who manages the Northwest Kansas Groundwater Management District No. 4, has a post up this morning about an idea being kicked around by his colleagues to the south to build an aqueduct to move Missouri River water westward to replenish supplies in depleted Ogallala-dependent communities:

The proposal is to transfer high flows west – four million AF per year capacity – thus assisting the adjacent and downstream states by reducing flood flows and the damage they do. A series of bank storage collector wells would collect the flows and place the water into the aqueduct. The aqueduct would provide water along the way to various users (municipal, ag and industrial), generate power, be a lazy-river tourist attraction, and pull any other duties such a supply of water can be harnessed to do. It would terminate in a new, man-made, 700,000 AF reservoir in west-central Kansas. From there it would need to be further distributed – mainly dedicated to irrigated agriculture for taking some stress off the Ogallala groundwater use.

What do you think? Is this a sensible idea?



  1. It’s been tried before. If you look North of the highway, West of Dodge City, you will see a curious pattern of old lumps of dirt that are remnants of the construction of a canal that promised to bring water to western Kansas.

    It was never completed. I presume they ran out of money. My mother, growing up in Cimarron, KS, remembers ice skating in the canal every winter.

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  3. John: Technically, the SW Kansas GMD Missouri Aqueduct proposal is taking just the very, very first step. The GMD is promoting a second look at the economics of the transfer. Only if the economics are plausible will further effort be expended on this notion. The requested water is NOT being used by anyone at this time and is unappropriated water. The average annual flow of the Missouri at the projected transfer point is somewhere around 29 million AF per year. The proposal is requesting only 4 million AF. To the extent transfers would be taken during high flows (flood flows) they will be beneficial in lessening impacts downstream. Finally, the effort Eric is referring to was a completely different effort in scale, scope and design. The reason it did not pan out was low river flows at the transfer source after construction ended. I wrote about it here: Anyway, thanks for capturing the article and writing more about it. WAB

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