Big Creek Middle Smoky Hill River Kanopolis Lake Watershed

General Information

Sponsored by:
Kansas State University
Project Manager:
Stacie Minson
Start Date:
November 1, 2003
120 N Main St
WaKeeney, KS 67672 United States

Big Creek Middle Smoky Hill River Watersheds

Geographical Information:

Surrounding water bodies:

Big Creek and Middle Smoky Hill Rivers -- drainage into Kanopolis Lake in Ellsworth County

Watershed Description:

Big Creek Watershed 10260007 and Middle Smoky Hill River 10260006 -- Kanopolis Reservoir Drainage

Project Goals & Objectives:

  • Quality
  • Surface water
  • Pollution
  • Conservation
  • Restoration

Project Achievements:

Objective 1: Activities aimed at implementing the following WRAPS goals:
• Reduce cropland and streambank erosion.
• Reduce erosion from land in CRP and maintain acres enrolled in CRP.
• Reduce fecal coliform bacteria originating from livestock.
• Manage grazing lands to reduce erosion.
• Reduce pollutants from urban areas.
• Develop a nutrient management plan.
• Reduce or eliminate illegal dumping of sewage and trash.
• Provide stormwater management for urban and transportation activities.
• Manage oil wells and oils fields concerning saltwater disposal, plugging abandoned wells, cleanliness at drilling sites, and sludge spread on leased roads.

Objective 2: Continued information & education (I&E), technical assistance, and outreach activities from KCARE in the following:
• Youth I&E -- "Story Hours" at area libraries; Girl Scout meetings; water testing at grade schools
• Ag producers -- cow/calf producers; nutrient management class; articles in conservation district section of area newspapers; livestock site evaluations and assessments
• Civic clubs -- presentations on water quality issues
• Fort Hays State University Service Learning class -- show Enviroscape at garden show and at after-school programs
• Articles -- area newspapers; conservation district newsletters; home & garden show inserts; KS Wildlife Parks & Wildlife annual Kanopolis Lake newsletter
• Loder Point wetlands project at Kanopolis Lake -- write grants; work with Corps of Engineers
• Other implementation projects -- streambank stabilization; rock channel crossing; buffer strip; native grass management; farm site hazardous waste cleanup; pet waste, etc.

One-on-One Contacts: 21
News Story/Articles in Watershed Newspapers: 30 articles/stories with 144,325 subscribers
Newspaper Inserts: 11 inserts/special editions with 56,100 subscribers
Press Releases: 8 press releases with 25,300 subscribers
Newsletters: 2 newsletters with 2,350 mailed
Direct Mail: 1,152 letters
Radio Talk Show: 4 shows with 98,000 listeners
Television Talk Show/Interview: 5 interviews with 50,000 viewers
Magnet: 1 magnet with 7,600 distributed
Scout Projects: 4 projects with 236 scouts
Public Meetings: 5 meetings with 276 attending
Radio Commercials: Promotion of 3 events with 93,200 listeners
Posters: 3 posters designed with 531 viewers
Exhibits/Displays: 12 places with 2,672 viewers
Brochures/Lake Guides: 2 brochures, 1 Lake Guide with 20,000 produced
Conference Papers/Presentations: 18 papers/presentations with 744 participants
Power Points Designed: 13
Fact Sheet: 1 fact sheet with 50 produced
Survey: 1 designed and 174 distributed
After-School Program: 1 with 31 youth
Conference: 1 with 35 participants
Soil sampling: 20 locations within the watershed
Water Sampling: 2 events with 56 sites sampled
Workshops: 9 workshops with 306 participants
Water Festivals: 14 festivals with 2,209 participants
Clean Water Neighbor Pledges: 6 events with 413 certificates
Field Day/Tour of Demo Projects: 4 events with 92 participants
Library Story Hour: 3 story hours with 57 youth
Battery Bags: 4,200 bags distributed at two events
WRAPS Team Meeting: 5 meetings with 64 attending
FHSU/WaterLINK/Service Learning: 5 presentations with 251 college students
Community Organizations: 7 meetings with 206 attendees
Battery Collection: 194 pounds in Ellsworth County; 14 pounds in Trego County: 237 batteries in Russell County.
Volunteer Training: 2 trainings with 16 volunteers attending

Summary of I & E Efforts
• Got Waste Magnets distributed in City Hays water bill to 7,600 households
• Eagle Cable Television (ECTV) infomercial sponsored by Culligan of Hays and focused on homeowner well maintenance, testing private wells, and PS/NPS pollution. Each program ran 5 times/day in December to an audience of 10,000 in Ellis, WaKeeney, Hays, & Russell; ECTV news on World Water Monitoring Day; ECTV news on the TGS Kitchen Chemistry lesson; and ECTV news on the Community Water Festival.
• Radio Efforts: Household batteries and recycling, KAYS Radio Friday Forum; spring water quality and BMP efforts on KAYS Radio Friday Forum; Ads on Eagle Radio promoting KLA/KSU Ranch Management Field Day; Ads on Russell Radio promoting KLA/KSU Ranch Management Field Day; KKSU Radio Interview with Eric Atkinson on the Rock Channel Crossing Project; Ads for Ag Clean Sweep on Eagle Radio; and KQNK Radio Coffee Talk Show in Norton sharing WRAPS process, goals, and projects – was in cooperation with Prairie Dog WRAPS.
• Library Story Hour Topics: water & living resources; law of the commons (fish survival); and water conservation.
• Scout Programs/Topics: Blue Traveler & Edible Aquifer; water festival type activities at the 2006 Scout Year End Celebration; and LaCrosse Scouts Storm Drain Marking Day
• Points Designed/Presented at Workshops/Conferences/Mtgs: Power “Are There Dollars Available for Water Quality?” – 2005 Russell Co Cow/Calf Symposium; “Water Quality…Makes Dollars & Sense in Your Operation” – 2006 Phillips/Rooks Seedstock Showcase; “Water Quality…What it Means to YOU!” – Norton Lions Club; “Are There Dollars Available for Water Quality?” – 2006 Trego, Gove, & Graham County Cow Sense Beef Programs; “Adopt a Drop Livestock Waterer Installation at 2006 Salina Farm Show: “Urban Water Quality” Russell Noon Kiwanis & Hill City Rotary; “Middle Smoky Hill River Watershed” Jerry Moran’s 2006 Conservation Tour; “Non-Traditional Cost Share Opportunities” for Area I KACD Meetings; “Roadside Water Quality & Vegetation Management” at State Weed Directors Summer Conference; “Big Creek Monitoring Project” at Ellis County Beef Meeting; and “WRAPS Efforts and Big Creek Monitoring Projects” to Post Rock Rural Water District Board.
• Livestock Site Visits: 3 sites in Rush Co for certification for 225 head of cow/calf pairs or 337 AU used as seasonal/winter feeding sites; 1 site in Ellis Co for recertification of permit for 75 AU dairy; 2 sites in Barton & Rush Counties for certification/permits of 300 head cow/calf operation or 150 AU and 75 head cow/calf, 35 AUs; 1 site in Rooks County for certification and design ideas for 300 head cows/heifers and 300 head feeders or 600 AUs; Ellis Co site on Smoky Hill River with 125 AU feeding on the river recommendation to move sites up on the hill and establish grass along the riverbank working with a producer to secure a back-up water supply in the form of a reservoir with enough for 4,000 beef AU; Russell County producer issues with summer pasture water quality issues; and offered assistance to Russell Co Beef Producer.
• Water Sampling Projects: students brought in water samples from 11 sites in Trego County for N, pH, and FCB at Trego Grade School; and FFA’ers brought 28 water samples to 2006 Ellis Co Farm Bureau Ag Safety Day, tested for Nitrate, nitrite, pH, and E.coli.
• News Stories/Articles/Special Editions: “Year in Review” Award in Western Kansas World (WKW), WaKeeney; TGS Water Monitoring Project; 2006 Ellis Co Conservation Edition in Hays Daily News (HDN); 2006 Ellsworth Co Conservation Edition in Ellsworth Independent Reporter (EIR); 2006 Russell Co Conservation Edition in Russell County News (RCN); 2006 Nutrient Management Schools in HDN; 2006 Nutrient Management Schools in High Plains Journal (HPJ); 2006 Home & Garden Edition, RCN; “Household Battery Recycling Bags Available” Ellis Review; 2006 HDN Home & Garden Edition; “Girl Scouts see the big picture of water conservation” HDN; “Just One Drop” Water Conservation Insert in Ellis Review; “To Protect & Conserve Water” Water Conservation 2nd Edition, Ellis Review; 2006 Garden & Home Improvement Edition in EIR; 2006 KSU Legislative Updates with feature story on a producer in the watersheds; EARTH Water Festivals in the RCN; “Moran brings House Ag Chairman to Central Kansas” EIR; “To Protect & Conserver” Water Conservation Edition in RCN: “WRAPS & Modeling Presentation meeting photo and caption in RCN; “Watershed Quality is Everyone’s Duty” in EIR; 2006 Kanopolis Lake Guide; “Federation Day Article in WKW; “Girl Scouts work to protect water quality” Rush County News; “Ellis City Council Minutes” in Ellis Review; 2006 Russell Co Beef News Edition in RCN; “Summer Water Quality, Livestock Performance” in RCN; “Water Wise Tips in the Kitchen” in the Ellis Review; “Water Wise Tips Outdoors” in Ellis Review; “Blundon Farms to host annual Ranch Field Day” (feature story in RCN; “Crossing improves water quality” in the Kansas Farmer; “Cattle crossing targets water quality” in the Kansas Stockman; “Kitchen Chemistry – pH of Household Products” in WKW; 2007 Ellis Co Conservation Edition in HDN; 2007 Ellsworth Co Conservation Edition in EIR; 2007 Russell County News Conservation Edition; 2007 Trego County Conservation Edition in WKW; “New Project No Longer Under WRAPS” – 2007 Spring KSU Ag Report; 2007 Kanopolis Lake Guide; 2007 HDN Home & Garden Edition; 2007 Russell Co Home & Garden Edition; “Big Creek 4-H Club Promotes Recycling “ in RCN; “2007 Ellis Community Water Festival” in Ellis Review; and “Participating in the Ellis Community Water Festival” in the Ellis Review.
• Newsletters: “The Importance of Recycling HHB” in EWCD; and Homeowner Private Well Maintenance Checklist in EWCD.
• Press Releases: “Public Invited to Watershed Meeting” HDN; “Watershed Meeting scheduled at Ellsworth” EIR; “House Ag Leader to visit State” EIR; “Watershed Meeting Slated for Today” EIR; “WRAPS Efforts in Watersheds” at WRAPS & Modeling Efforts Meetings; “Workshop on Saturday to address Drought issues” RCN; “Water Festival Approaching” in Ellis Review; and “Friendly Reminder about Water Festival” in Ellis Review.
• KLES Livestock Trailer Demonstration: 2006 Phillips/Rooks Seedstock Showcase
• Exhibit/Display: 2006 Ellis Co Conservation District Annual Meeting – Livestock Waterer Project; 2006 State WRAPS Conference – Big Creek Middle Smoky Hill Watersheds; 2006 Home & Garden Show; 2006 Salina Farm Show; 2006 3I Show; 2006 FHSU Service Learning Fair; Kansas Association of College Teachers in Agriculture Winter Conference; 2007 Ellis Co Conservation District Annual Meeting – Rock Channel Crossing Project; 2007 Russell Co Conservation District Annual Meeting – Rock Channel Crossing Project; 2007 Ellsworth Co Conservation District Annual Meeting—Rock Channel Crossing Project; 2007 Norton County Conservation District Annual Meeting – Rock Channel Crossing Project; and 2007 Ellis Co Home & Garden Show – brochures and Big Creek Monitoring Project Poster.
• Poster: Poster for Rock Channel Crossing Project – presented at 2007 National Water Quality Conference in Savannah, GA.
• Fact Sheets: Big Creek Middle Smoky Hill River Watersheds Fact Sheets.
• Brochure: “Parking Lots: Environmental Friends or Foes” for City of Hays and watershed usage.
• Public Meeting: Oral presentation on WRAPS & BMPs at 2006 Ellsworth County Conservation District Annual Meeting; oral presentation on WRAPS activities and modeling efforts to Ellis Co Conservation District Board; Oral presentation on implementing BMPs in the urban setting to protect and improve water quality at the 2006 Girl Scout Year End Celebration; oral presentation on WRAPS process to Smoky Hills RC&D Area; and 2007 Salina Farm Show – demonstrated the Enviroscape and KLES Tabletop unit.
• Community Organizations: Norton Lions Club; Soroptimist; Xi Epsilon; Russell Noon Kiwanis; Hill City Rotary; WaKeeney Literary Club; Commerce Senior Bank Group; and NW Kansas Low Vision Association.
• Battery Bags: Inserted in 2006 Russell Co Conservation Edition; Inserted in the 2006 Home & Garden Edition, RCN; inserted in Ellis Review; and Russell County 4-H Club put up a booth at the County Fair on the battery recycling project and received Grand Champion.
• FHSU Classes/WaterLink/Service Learning: Demo Enviroscape and verbal presentation on TMDLs; presented at the FHSU Water Link for Science Teachers Conference. Provided each student with a battery bag, EPA on NPS pollution, and watershed brochures for their reference purposes. Demonstrated the Enviroscape and had them actively participate in the Raging Headwaters activity to encourage a better understanding on NPS pollution; and Demonstrated the Rainfall Simulator to the FHSU Soil & Water Management Class.
• Watershed Survey: Norton Lions Club; 2006 Trego, Gove, & Graham County Cow Sense Beef Programs; Hill City Rotary; Russell Noon Kiwanis; 2006 State Weed Director’s Conference; and 2006 FHSU Service Learning Fair.
• Workshops/Conference: 2006 Nutrient Management Schools in Ellsworth & Hays; 2006 Russell Co Burn School; and 2007 Russell Co Nutrient Management School.
• WRAPS Meetings: in Hays for our watersheds; in Stockton for development of new WRAPS; Big Creek Middle Smoky Hill River (BCMSHR) Team meeting to review 2007 Grant Funds request; Core Team meeting to discuss plans, activities, and future plans; met with Waconda Lake & Upper Smoky Hill River WRAPS Coordinator and the Prairie Dog Creek WRAPS Coordinators in Norton to provide them with background and information on how to get started in the watersheds. Provided each of them with a packet of my working files that I’ve used to promote, contact, and publicize events in the watersheds and a series of resources for their future use in finding water quality related information for their watersheds; facilitator for Solomon & Upper Smoky Hill WRAPS meetings; served as moderator and ran quick tests on water samples at the Prairie Dog WRAPS meetings; and BCMSHR Team meeting to discuss activities and request for 2008 funds.
• Loder Point Wetland Project: Review Site for project and applied for funding through an EPA 5 Star Restoration Grant; Received $15,200.00; soil study performed by NRCS for site; Total station survey conducted by NRCS, USFWS, and EWCD; no dirt work started yet because of wet winter and spring.
• BAC Meetings: information on implementation efforts; Rock Channel Crossing Presentation; shared progress and upcoming WRAPS events; and Big Creek Monitoring Project.
• Water Festivals/Youth Events: demo Enviroscape and Raging Headwaters activity at HOT training; EARTH at Victoria; EARTH at Hays; Formal presentation to Ellis City Council to host a Community Water Festival; 2006 Victoria Day Camp; 2006 NW Area Experiment Station Horticulture Field Day; 2006 Ellis CO Farm Bureau Kids’ Ag Day; Trego Grade School Kitchen Chemistry Lesson; Raging Headwaters at Trego Junior High, Ellis Junior High and Otis-Bison Middle School; Community Water Festival at the Mall in Hays; Raging Headwaters at Felten Middle School; Raging Headwaters and Blue Traveler activities at Washington Grade School in Ellis; Raging Headwaters for K-8 in Ellis; training for City of Ellis Staff, Council Members and Mayor for the Water Festival; and Ellis Community Water Festival.
• Clean Water Neighbor Pledges: HOT training; Russell Noon Kiwanis; Norton Lions Club; Soroptimist; Xi Epsilon; Hill City Rotary; State Weed Directors Conference; 2006 Ellis Co Kids’ Day; Commerce Bank Senior Group; Trego Junior High 8th Grade Students; 6th Grade Felten Middle School Students; and Kansas Association of College Teachers in Agriculture.
• Rock Channel Crossing: planning meetings, installation of crossing; and field day/tour; shared the project at the Kansas Grazing Lands Coalition summer meeting; Hosted field day/tour in partnership with KLA/KSU Ranch Management Field Day with presentations on the following: Rock Channel Crossing; National Animal ID; and Grazing and Drought issues.
• Be A Leader, Kill A Cedar Field Day: planning meetings, promotion, and field day held in Russell County. Minson demonstrated the lack of vegetation in a pasture which affects the water quality and then provided BMPs to protect the water quality. Other presentations covered grazing land health and drought management, the effects of red cedar tree invasions, and demonstration with equipment on clearing woody invasions in pasture settings.
• Solar Pump Installation Day: installed a solar pump; discussed cost-share opportunities; and water quality issues in Ellsworth County.
• EPA CARE Level I Grant: submitted a grant request of $100,000 to continue with and expand the Big Creek Monitoring Project.
• Ag Clean Sweep: Ag Clean Sweep collection of agriculture waste held at the Ellis County Landfill. Promoted this event with 79 radio ads, 30 posters, and 1,093 direct mail notifications by County Agents. Collection totals = 6,034 pounds of chemicals. ECTV promoted the collection on November 3, 2006 Ellis, WaKeeney, Hays, and Russell with 10,000 viewers, ECTV also did a news cast from the Landfill which aired on November 14, 2006 to encourage producers to haul in unwanted waste. News article ran in News County News on November 2, 2006 and the Western Kansas World on November 2, 2006 with 2,476 subscribers.
• Ellis Co Beef Meeting/Trego Co Cattle Sen$e: demonstrated KLES table top display.
• Aerial view of the Watersheds: we flew the watershed in March of 2007 from Hays to Cedar Bluff to Kanopolis Lake back to Hays; have over 500 aerial photos and video camera footage.
• Other Meetings: attend meetings of local Conservation District Boards; RC&Ds; Dakota Hills KAWS Chapter; Ellis Co Working Group for EQIP Ranking; and STATE WRAPS Conference Planning Committee Member; and KSU WRAPS Technical Team quarterly meetings.

Overview of all monitoring sites:
Site 1: No parameters of concern
Site 2: High TSS values, ice melting brine in storm waters, N & P higher than other city sites
Site 3: High TSS values, lots of organic debris
Site 4: High TSS values, lots of organic/inorganic debris in waters
Site 5: Quick spike in hydrograph from Hays’s storm water
Site 6: Total nitrogen and phosphorous levels nearly quadrupled from wastewater effluent
Site 7: Specific conductivity levels rise, increased TSS, N & P very high levels
Site 8: No parameters of concern, very transparent waters

It became apparent with the Big Creek Monitoring Project that the City of Hays had a substantial negative impact on the waters of the Big Creek Watershed. With high TSS levels during every large storm (>1” precipitation), high specific conductivity levels from either the waste water treatment plant or from somewhere between sites 6 and 7, and also the drastically increased total nitrogen and phosphorus levels from the wastewater treatment plant some best management practices (BMP’s) are needed. At Site 2 there was a large 3 acre open area with a small park named Dan Rupp park that was continually mowed to grass heights of 1-1.5”. Should a BMP be implemented at this site, there is a substantial chance to either let the grass grow or develop the area into ephemeral wetlands to slow water velocities and allow percolation while filtering nitrogen, phosphorous, and other wastes from the storm waters.
The problem that exists from high nitrogen and phosphorous levels from sewage effluent is a matter that will cost more and need professional input. There are plans to begin monitoring the Chetolah Draw watershed to see if water quality is an issue on the eastern drainage of Hays beginning fall 2007. As for the associated water quality parameters of concern between sites 6 and 7, plans are made to target the point source or large point source and implement a BMP with cooperation from either the Ag-Research Center-Hays or the local Natural Resources and Conservation Service. Water quality of the Middle Smoky Hill River watershed is not of concern at this time from the release point at Cedar Bluff Reservoir to the monitoring site located on Hwy 183.

John Stannard

Current Project Partners:

  • EARTH FHSU WaterLINK RNAS City of Hays City of Ellis City of WaKeeney City of Russell Post Rock Rural Water District USACE -- Kanopolis KDWP -- Kanopolis County Conservation Districts -- Trego, Ellis, Russell & Ellsworth County NRCS -- Trego, Ellis, Russell & Ellsworth County KSRE -- Trego, Ellis, Russell & Ellsworth County Local Producers

Copyright 2019 Kansas Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy
This project funded in part through the Kansas Water Office, with appropriations from the Kansas Water Plan Fund; and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, through EPA Section 319 Nonpoint Source Pollution Control Grant # C9007405-11.