Grant Stories & News

Dredging improves water storage capacity, fish habitat at Lake Emerson

JEWELL – The water storage capacity and potential fish production of Lake Emerson was enhanced when about 40,000 cubic yards of sediment was dredged out of the lake bottom.

A foundation grant assisted the city in providing matching funds for the city’s application for Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism grant to fund the project. The dredging was completed in late May, right before Jewell County received a large amount of rainfall, which filled up the lake.

Lake Emerson is a highly utilized recreational feature and outdoor amenity. It was created after the city council asked a civil and hydraulic engineer to design a waterworks system in 1912. The engineer proposed constructing a dam on West Buffalo Creek that would impound 16 million gallons of water. The proposal was approved by bond election in January 1913.

Twenty-three acres of land was purchased for the reservoir with 14 acres comprised of water. The city concluded it could save money building its own dam, making sure local men were hired. The work was done by a steam-powered machine nicknamed Susan Puffer. On Jan. 2, 1914, the first water was pumped into Jewell’s new standpipe.

In 1973, the city council voted to replace the water plant with water from Rural Water District No. 3 (the Waconda reservoir). This ensured the city had safe and clean water during dry years.

In 2008, an EF3 tornado destroyed much of the west side of town including the water tower and old pumping station.