City of Wichita working to conserve water as levels at Cheney Reservoir decline

City officials said Wichita is currently in Stage 1 of its drought response plan.
Published: Jun. 1, 2023 at 11:58 AM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - The latest drought map shows Wichita among the 32 percent of the state in exceptional drought. As it doesn’t include the welcome rain Wichita saw on Thursday, the city has already begun conserving water, and it’s encouraging residents to do the same.

Half of Wichita’s annual drinking water comes from Cheney Reservoir. The Wichita Water Facility blends surface water from Cheney with that from the Equus beds well-field to meet water quality standards. As levels have declined, the city has entered Stage 1 of its Codified Drought Response Plan.

In April, Cheney was 86 percent full. As of June 1, it’s at 77 percent. Drought stages are determined by the average level of the Cheney Reservoir within a year-long period. If that average gets to 69 percent, the city will move into Stage 2, according to Don Henry, Assistant Director of Public Works, Water and Utilities.

Cheney Lake Levels as of June 1, 2023.
Cheney Lake Levels as of June 1, 2023.(KWCH)

Henry said based on the city’s projections, that could happen late this year or early next year. The moving target is based on not how much rain we get but on how much of that rain results in runoff into Cheney Reservoir.

While at Stage 1, Wichita has taken three primary measures: implementation of an internal conservation plan, enacting the water rebate program and reducing lawn and gardening water usage.

Mayor Bandon Whipple said the city has already taken a number of conservation measures including reducing water on parkland and city-owned grassy areas, irrigating city golf courses with pond water, wells and using drought-resistant grasses, using gray water on trees, only cleaning city vehicles when necessary and using water efficient devices at city facilities, along with other measures.

The city has also expanded its water rebate program not only to Wichita water customers but also to water customers outside of Wichita, and in other cities and towns that purchase wholesale water from the City of Wichita. The program offers rebates to customers who purchase water-saving appliances and devices.

Henry said this time of year, outdoor watering makes up a big chunk of the demand on Wichita’s water supply. He said water customers are encouraged to find ways to save and cut back as much as they can on outdoor watering.

With the Riverfest set to kick off on Friday, Whipple said the city will run its water fountains, but the fountains will be turned off after the festival.

You can find more ways to save water and check out the City of Wichita’s conservation efforts at