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Cedar Bluff water reaches Russell's wells


PFEIFER -- As the sun dropped lower on the western horizon Monday evening, Arlyn Unrein's optimism grew.

As the first hint of water rounded a bend in the Smoky Hill River not far from the western edge of the city of Russell's wellfield, Unrein knew it was time.

"I'm going to drive up the hill and call the bureau," Unrein said of the Bureau of Reclamation, and tell them to shut it down. There's no doubt it's here and more coming."

He had to drive up the hill overlooking the Smoky Hill River where there was suitable telephone reception to make the call, and ask them to shut off the flow of water from Cedar Bluff Reservoir.

He made the call at approximately 7:15 p.m. Monday, four days after Russell called for the release of water it owns in Cedar Bluff.

The goal for Unrein, public works director for the city of Russell, was to release just enough water to recharge wells along the Smoky near Pfeifer but waste no more than necessary.

After making the call, Unrein headed back down to streamside, waiting for the water to reach his vantage point.

"Hallelujah," he said as a trickle of water started flowing next to a fence line where Russell's wellfield starts.

He expected the water to reach the city's low water dam across the Smoky by sometime today, perhaps even the Pfeifer blacktop approximately 2 miles west.

Based on discharge rates, Unrein thinks approximately 400 million gallons of water was released at Russell's request.

"That is more than a year's worth of water for us,' he said, and it's only a temporary fix unless rains start falling. In a typical year, Unrein said, Russell will use approximately 300 million gallons.

Water started being released from Cedar Bluff for Russell at 10 a.m. Thursday at a rate of 250 cubic feet per second.

It stayed at that rate for 24 hours, dropped down to 150 cfs for 48 hours.

Water was released at 50 cfs for 33 hours prior to Unrein calling for the gates to be closed.

"It's really going to start soaking it up the next mile and a half," Unrein said as the water approached his vantage point to the dam across the river. "We need some to go over (the dam) because there are three wells below the dam."