By MIKE CORN

mcorn@dailynews.net

As water levels near camp sites at Cedar Bluff State Park continue to fall, park manager Chris Smith keeps a close eye on conditions in Russell.

The city has moved into a strict water conservation phase and has suggested the possibility of tapping into Cedar Bluff to augment its water supply.

That's what happened in 2006, when Russell last faced sharply depleted water supplies.

In 2006, slightly more than 3,000 acre-feet of water -- nearly a billion gallons -- were released from Cedar Bluff, slowly creeping downstream along the Smoky Hill River to Pfeifer, where the city of Russell has its main wells.

That release dropped the level of the lake 1.12 feet.

Currently, Russell has nearly 2,000 acre-feet of water available for release while the Kansas Water Office only has about 1,400 acre-feet.

There's a concern there on the part of both the city of Russell and the KWO that there might not be enough water available to push all the way down to the Russell wellfield.

KWO director Tracy Streeter said his office met with Hays and Russell officials via conference call Monday to talk about conditions.

"They're not going to do anything here in the short run," Streeter said of making a decision on releasing water.

He recognizes the shortage of water available.

"We don't have the water like last time we made the release," he said.

Yet he's not ready to discount the possibility of a release.

"If we can't be successful in getting water to Russell, it seems like an iffy situation," he said.