North Fork of the Ninnescah River flows generally eastward across south
central Kansas. During the early 1960's, Cheney Reservoir was constructed
at the lower end of the river to provide a water supply system for the
City of Wichita as well as providing recreational opportunities and
flood control. The reservoir currently supplies 60 to 70 percent of
Wichita's daily water supply.
The watershed encompasses land in five counties - Sedgwick, Reno, Kingman,
Pratt, and Stafford, with the majority in Reno County. For purposes
of administering the project, the watershed is subdivided into four
smaller watersheds - Goose Creek, Silver Creek, the West Ninnescah,
and the East Ninnescah. The division between the East and West Ninnescah
subwatersheds is an arbitrary line near Arlington. Small towns in the
watershed include Arlington, Castleton, Partridge, Plevna, Preston,
Stafford, Sylvia, and, Turon.
This watershed is classified as 99% agricultural and includes a surprising
diversity of farming and ranching practices, crops, rainfall, soil types,
and topography. The eastern half of the watershed includes Reno County,
which has more farms than almost any other county in the state of Kansas.
Small dairies with less than 100 cows are prevalent as are mixed livestock
and grain farms.
percent of the watershed is pasture for beef cattle production. Pastures
in the western half are generally in larger acreages than the eastern
half. In the western reaches of the watershed, strip cropping and center
pivot irrigation are common practices that address wind erosion and
lower rainfall patterns. Typical crops in the watershed are wheat, grain
sorghum, soybeans, sunflowers, corn, alfalfa and other hay and forage
crops. There are a limited number of confinement livestock operations.
Seventeen percent of the watershed is enrolled in the Conservation Reserve
Program with the acres planted to native grasses and forbs for a contract
period of 10 years. This area has one of the highest percentages of
CRP acres in the nation.
farmers in the watershed begin to address water quality concerns, they
are encouraged to consider their entire farm and their long-term goals.
Their most creative solutions will address more than one facet of the
farm. The most successful agricultural practices and plans will address
economic advantages, improvements in quality of life, as well as protection
of our water resources.