History of natural flows--Kansas River

Open-File Report 58-62




Through its Water Resources Division, the United States Geological Survey has become the major water-resources historian for the nation. The Geological Survey's collection of streamflow records in Kansas began on a very small scale in 1895 in response to some early irrigation interest, Since that time the program has grown, and we now have about 21 350 station-years of record accumulated. A station-year of record is defined as a continuous record of flow collected at a fixed point for a period of one year. Volume of data at hand, however, is not in itself an, adequate measure of its usefullness. An important element in historical streamflow data which enhances its value as a tool for the prediction of the future is the length of continuous records available in the area being studied. The records should be of sufficient length that they may be regarded as a reasonable sample of what has gone before and may be expected in the future. Table 1 gives a graphical inventory of the available streamflow records in Kansas. It shows that, in general, there is a fair coverage of stations with records of about thirty-seven years in length, This is not a long period as history goes but it does include considerable experience with floods and droughts.

Although a large quantity of data on Kansas streamflow has been accumulated, hydrologists and planning engineers find that stream flow information for many areas of the State is considerably less than adequate. The problem of obtaining adequate coverage has been given careful study by the Kansas Water Resources Board in cooperation with the U. S. Geological Survey and a report entitled "Development of A Balanced Stream-Gaging Program For Kansas", has been published by the Board as Bulletin No. 4, That report presents an analysis of the existing stream-gaging program and recommendations for a program to meet the rapidly expanding needs for more comprehensive basic data.

The Kansas River is formed near Junction City, Kansas, by the confluence of the Smoky Hill and Republican Rivers, From that point the river flows eastward about 175 miles to Kansas City where it empties into the Missouri River. The basic history of its natural flow can be depicted in general by the records from three gaging stations. The one at Bonner Springs, about 21 miles upstream from the mouth, may be considered as representing the total outflow from the basin; the one at Ogden, about 8 miles downstream from the confluence of the Smoky Hill and Republican Rivers, may be considered as representing the combined contribution of those streams to the Kansas River flow; and the one at Topeka, being only about 16 river miles nearer to Ogden than to Bonner Springs, may be considered as representing flows at the mid-point along the river.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
History of natural flows--Kansas River
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
5 p.
United States
Other Geospatial:
Kansas River