Manhattan residents hear update on Tuttle Creek Reservoir levels

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MANHATTAN, Kan. (WIBW) - An overflow crowd turned out Wednesday night in Manhattan to hear the Army Corps of Engineers outline plans for dealing with rising water levels in Tuttle Creek Reservoir.

The Corps stressed it is not yet announcing any releases from the dam. The simply wanted the public to have information about plans moving forward.

The reservoir has been holding water due to flooding conditions downstream along the Missouri River. But with so much rain in its drainage area this spring, levels have risen steadily. Right now, the flood plain at Tuttle is hovering around 75 percent, according to Brian McNulty with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

"We still have 25 percent of the capacity of the reservoir left to fill so we have space to store flood waters if we do get more rain - and it's in the forecast," McNulty said. "But as far as if we would need to use the spillway, that's pretty much impossible to determine right now because once the lake is full, the lake is operated in surcharge operations by passing through whatever is coming through the lake."

All the lakes in the Kansas River system - Milford, Tuttle, Perry, and Clinton - are holding on to their water because of the conditions along the Missouri River. The Corps monitors areas around Waverly. Missouri, which is the lowest point on the river, in making their release decisions.

Many residents are wary because they recall the floods of 1993. On July 23 of that year, with the lake 63 feet above normal, the Corps opened all 18 flood gates at Tuttle, releasing approximately 27 million gallons of water per minute. It remains the only time those gates have been opened to facilitate a faster release. But it overwhelmed the Big Blue River, flooding neighborhoods downstream.

Look back at the 1993 floods in our 13 at 65 Special Report.

Pat Collins, Riley Co. Emergency Mgt. Director, said the floods in 1993 have served as a learning experience.

"We know where the water went then; we know the amount of water that came out the dam; how the plan works for the Corps of Engineers," Collins said. "We have lots of new models and lots of new GIS data that we can use to manipulate how and when we move people."

Residents remain concerned, but appreciate the updates.

"With the dam in its present state and the flood control. they know more what to expect this go around. So it's a wait and see," resident Melissa Cook said.

The city of Manhattan is updated flood information on its web site,