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Russell will call for water release

By MIKE CORN

mcorn@dailynews.net

RUSSELL -- It didn't take long for the Russell City Council to grant Arlyn Unrein's request to call for the release of water from Cedar Bluff Reservoir.

"I don't know if there's a better time to do it," Unrein said of releasing at least some of the water owned by the city of Russell in Cedar Bluff. "I think it's a good time to do it."

The council unanimously gave its approval, including two members who joined Tuesday's special meeting via telephone.

The release could start as early as Thursday.

Unrein's request for permission to call for the release was the only item on the agenda for Tuesday's special meeting. Unrein is Russell's public works director, and he has been watching daily the progress of water released from Cedar Bluff for the city of Hays.

That Hays release now is nearly midway through the city's wellfield near Schoenchen. As of Tuesday afternoon, the water still was shy of reaching the U.S. Highway 183 bridge, but it was steadily advancing.

Unrein spent the first part of his request detailing the Hays release, telling council members the release came from the artificial recharge pool managed by the Kansas Water Office. He said 1,186 acre-feet of water was released.

Russell owns the rights to 2,000 acre-feet of water in the lake.

"It's doing what they wanted it to do," Unrein said, "which is recharge the aquifer."

Unrein told council members he'd like to mimic the Hays release, starting out with a robust amount -- 250 cubic feet per second and then slowing the release down as the water makes its way downstream.

That's exactly what the council agreed to allow, starting at that rate and letting Unrein monitor the flow.

Although Unrein isn't sure how much water will need to be released, he sought to assure council members the entire amount owned by the city won't be needed.

"I'm guessing 1,000 or 1,200 acre-feet," he said. "I think we have to follow it and release what we need to make it to our wellfield."

The water release is designed to recharge Russell's wells along the Smoky Hill River near Pfeifer.

"We haven't been running them very much because Big Creek is running pretty good," he said of the city's second supply of water.

"I think we need to go ahead with what we're talking about now and get it done," said Councilman Larry Daughtery, who was listening via telephone.

"I don't think we're going to find a more opportune time to do it," said Councilman Chuck Bean.

"We've released in all kinds of weather situations," Unrein said. "This is the best situation we've faced."

Exactly when the Russell release will start is unknown, but Unrein said he didn't want to wait long. He's willing to delay the release a few days to let Hays take water well readings to determine what the rate of recharge from its release might be.