Quantifying suspended sediment loads delivered to Cheney Reservoir, Kansas: Temporal patterns and management implications

Journal of Soil and Water Conservation
By: , and 



Cheney Reservoir, constructed during 1962 to 1965, is the primary water supply for the city of Wichita, the largest city in Kansas. Sediment is an important concern for the reservoir as it degrades water quality and progressively decreases water storage capacity. Long-term data collection provided a unique opportunity to estimate the annual suspended sediment loads for the entire history of the reservoir. To quantify and characterize sediment loading to Cheney Reservoir, discrete suspended sediment samples and continuously measured streamflow data were collected from the North Fork Ninnescah River, the primary inflow to Cheney Reservoir, over a 48-year period. Continuous turbidity data also were collected over a 15-year period. These data were used together to develop simple linear regression models to compute continuous suspended sediment concentrations and loads from 1966 to 2013. The inclusion of turbidity as an additional explanatory variable with streamflow improved regression model diagnostics and increased the amount of variability in suspended sediment concentration explained by 14%. Using suspended sediment concentration from the streamflow-only model, the average annual suspended sediment load was 102,517 t (113,006 tn) and ranged from 4,826 t (5,320 tn) in 1966 to 967,569 t (1,066,562 tn) in 1979. The sediment load in 1979 accounted for about 20% of the total load over the 48-year history of the reservoir and 92% of the 1979 sediment load occurred in one 24-hour period during a 1% annual exceedance probability flow event (104-year flood). Nearly 60% of the reservoir sediment load during the 48-year study period occurred in 5 years with extreme flow events (9% to 1% annual exceedance probability, or 11- to 104-year flood events). A substantial portion (41%) of sediment was transported to the reservoir during five storm events spanning only eight 24-hour periods during 1966 to 2013. Annual suspended sediment load estimates based on streamflow were, on average, within ±20% of estimates based on streamflow and turbidity combined. Results demonstrate that large suspended sediment loads are delivered to Cheney Reservoir in very short time periods, indicating that sediment management plans eventually must address large, infrequent inflow events to be effective.

Study Area

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Quantifying suspended sediment loads delivered to Cheney Reservoir, Kansas: Temporal patterns and management implications
Series title Journal of Soil and Water Conservation
DOI 10.2489/jswc.70.2.91
Volume 70
Issue 2
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher Soil and Water Conservation Society
Contributing office(s) Kansas Water Science Center
Description 10 p.
First page 91
Last page 100
Country United States
State Kansas
Other Geospatial Cheney Reservoir Basin
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details