Reservoir receiving increasing attention

Marion Reservoir is receiving increased attention as a resource to save from sedimentation and for future water supplies in the Neosho River system the audience learned at a June 18 meeting at the Marion City Building.

The reservoir is recognized as one of the vital links for growth and water-system well being in both Kansas and Oklahoma as a supplier into the Grand Lakes, said Peggy Blackman.

Blackman has been the coordinator here for the Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy program in cooperation with the Natural Resource and Conservation Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

She has been known locally mostly for her work with the Marion Watershed District, but she said her role will be expanding to work in most of the Neosho Basin.

The Marion County Board of Commissioners has supported the WRAPS effort with $75,200 in local money. Commissioners have said several times that local efforts need to be continued for well-being here as well as before it is required in the interest of populations downstream.

Traci Robb, managing ranger at Marion Reservoir for the Corps of Engineers, said one local concern?the blue-green algae which potentially can contribute to local water supply toxicity?has been in evidence once this year.

But continuing rains caused the water to turn over, which interrupted algae growth.

She said another likely problem?the infestation of zebra mussels?hasn?t been observed yet this year, ?but they?re there.?

Bryan Sorensen, public lands biologist with the Kansas Depart?ment of Wildlife and Parks headquartered at the northwest end of the reservoir, said his department has been able to install 30- to 40-yard wide native grass buffer strips along some cropland to help filter run-off of sediment and chemicals before it enters the lake.

Blackman said best management practices installed with local farmers in the MWD the last year include 24 acres of grassed waterways, 83,257 feet of terraces, 115 acres of pasture range seeding, 37 acres of wildlife habitat, four household waste systems, one well plug, and one alternative water source paid for entirely by the producer to remove cattle from a stream bank.

Blackman said the Marion Reservoir watershed includes 200 square miles, or 132,000 acres.

Ann D? Alfonso, environmental scientist with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, in outlining a state contribution of $108,940 for the Marion Reservoir watershed, said the funding effort continues under budget constrictions, but ?there?s just not enough money.?

Philip Barnes, biological and agricultural engineer at Kansas State University, continues to monitor stream flows, sediment loads and chemicals carried on French Creek, Silver Creek and the North Cottonwood River coming into the reservoir.

He noted peak loads of impurities during normal high watershed times in spring and early summer as well as for individual heavy rainfall events.

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