Multi-year droughts have been a recurrent feature of the climate and hydrology of Kansas since at least the 1930s. Streamflow records collected by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) indicate that water years 2000 to 2006 (October 1, 1999, through September 30, 2006) represent the sixth hydrologic drought during the past eight decades, and that corresponding streamflow levels in some parts of Kansas were lower than those during historic droughts of the 1930s and 1950s, even though the precipitation deficit was not as severe. Record-low streamflows in water year 2006 were recorded at USGS streamgages on the Republican, Smoky Hill, Solomon, Saline, upper Kansas, middle Arkansas, and Little Arkansas Rivers, as well as many tributary sites, and one tributary site of the Neosho River (fig. 1, table 1).
Low streamflows during the hydrologic drought also resulted in record low levels at three Federal reservoirs in Kansas (fig. 1, table 2). An unprecedented number of administrative decisions were made by the Division of Water Resources, Kansas Department of Agriculture to curtail water diversions from rivers to maintain minimum desirable streamflows, and low flows on the lower Republican River in Kansas created concerns that Colorado and Nebraska were not complying with the terms of the 1943 Republican River Compact.