Storage capacity in John Redmond Reservoir is being lost to sedimentation more rapidly than in other federal impoundments in Kansas. The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, initiated a study to characterize suspended-sediment loading to and from John Redmond Reservoir from February 21, 2007, through February 21, 2008. Turbidity sensors were installed at two U.S. Geological Survey stream gages upstream (Neosho River near Americus and the Cottonwood River near Plymouth) and one stream gage downstream (Neosho River at Burlington) from the reservoir to compute continuous, real-time (15-minute) measurements of suspended-sediment concentration and loading.
About 1,120,000 tons of suspended-sediment were transported to, and 100,700 tons were transported from John Redmond Reservoir during the study period. Dependent on the bulk density of sediment stored in the reservoir, 5.0 to 1.4 percent of the storage in the John Redmond conservation pool was lost during the study period, with an average deposition of 3.4 to 1.0 inches. Nearly all (98-99 percent) of the incoming sediment load was transported during 9 storms which occurred 25 to 27 percent of the time. The largest storm during the study period (peak-flow recurrence interval of about 4.6-4.9 years) transported about 37 percent of the sediment load to the reservoir. Suspended-sediment yield from the unregulated drainage area upstream from the Neosho River near Americus was 530 tons per square mile, compared to 400 tons per square mile upstream from the Cottonwood River near Plymouth.
Comparison of historical (1964-78) to current (2007) sediment loading estimates indicate statistically insignificant (<90 percent confidence) differences at the Neosho River near Americus and the Cottonwood River near Plymouth, but a significant (>99 percent) decrease in sediment loading at the Neosho River at Burlington. Ninety-percent confidence intervals of streamflow-derived estimates of total sediment load were 7 to 21 times larger than turbidity-derived estimates. Results from this study can be used by natural resource managers to calibrate sediment models and estimate the ability of John Redmond Reservoir to support designated uses into the future.