Hodgeman and Ness Counties, Kansas
Working within a joint venture holding a multiple award task order contracting vehicle with the Department of Agriculture, WRS is serving as the contract manager and project manager for this supplemental watershed project plan and environmental assessment to construct five new distributed flood-control dams in western Kansas.
Covering an area across 10 western Kansas counties almost the size of the entire state of Delaware, the Pawnee River Joint District No. 81 Watershed’s 1.6 million acres makes it purportedly the largest in the world. The local sponsor is considering implementing another five dams scheduled in its 1988 updated plan within two subwatersheds along the northern boundary of the district, impounding three creeks. NRCS requires a supplemental watershed plan and environmental assessment in support.
An important — but often under-utilized — component of any watershed plan is the identification of strategic or target areas. We suggest considering a subwatershed prioritization model with input from project staff and stakeholders. Our experience in developing watershed plans has taught us that prioritizing efforts down to smaller basins helps facilitate stakeholder buy-in, simplifies and enhances implementation success, produces greater water quality improvements and makes grant applications more attractive to funding agencies. Working with project staff and impacted stakeholders, WRS works to determine Subwatershed Management Units and establish a set of GIS data driven criteria for prioritizing these units based on watershed plan and project staff goals.
The Plan-Environmental Document will describe alternatives and examine reasonable alternatives in detail and identify the preferred alternative as the most technically, economically, socially and environmentally defensible alternative as determined by NRCS in consultation with the Project Sponsor. Solutions design will incorporate structural design elements following the Kansas Dam Safety criteria and performance standards, as well as non-structural alternatives.