Update Wednesday, 5/29, 12 p.m.
Releases from Tuttle Creek Dam’s outlet works — colloquially called the tubes — began Wednesday morning at 7 a.m. Sirens in the area should be expected to sound regularly, though no flooding is expected as a result of the releases.
Riley County Emergency Management Director Pat Collins spoke with KMAN on-air Wednesday morning and says the plan is to release 15,000 cfs (cubic feet per second) of water from the reservoir and keep levels down. He says the Kansas River at its current level should be able to take that level of release without exceeding the banks, adding up to 30,000 cfs should cause no flooding even into backyards. Releases should be expected for the next few days.
Current levels on the Kansas River at Manhattan have been going down, currently at 17.2 feet and is estimated to continue falling through the weekend.
Collins also adds that many gauges upstream are inundated by the levels at Tuttle, so inflow has to be calculated by the rate of elevation change at the lake.
Collins again encouraged residents to prepare now and not wait to the last minute as well as sign up for emergency alerts through the county websites.
Levels at Tuttle Creek Lake are currently at 1134.69 feet above mean sea level, according to gauges on the National Weather Service website. Tuttle’s release target of Waverly, Mo., is currently in moderate flood stage at 30.4 feet.
Gauges on the National Weather Service site shows Milford Lake levels at 1170.5 feet. The level where water would go out the spillway on the south end of the reservoir is 1176.25 ft.
MANHATTAN — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to start small releases of water from the outlet works over the next three days.
During a press conference on Tuesday, Tuttle Creek Operations Manager Brian McNulty said the releases will range from a couple thousand cubic feet per second, to 5,00 CFS.
As of Tuesday morning, Tuttle Creek Lake reached 1133.21 feet, which means the lake is three feet from capacity. This puts the lake at 92 percent capacity. McNulty says they also have more room downstream, with Waverly, Missouri being their target point.
Riley County Emergency Management Director Pat Collins told reporters they’ve reached the third level of the emergency management response, with his office now actively set up in a 24-hour Emergency Operations Center, located at the Manhattan Fire Department headquarters.
Collins says at this point, the Emergency Management office is monitoring lake elevations, forecasts, river levels, critical populations that are affected and the safety of residents and responders.
Manhattan Fire Chief Scott French explains how people will be notified if an evacuation becomes necessary.
Pottawatomie County Fire Chief Jared Barnes says they are issuing sandbags to some residents in potentially flood prone areas.
Vaccines for tetanus boosters will be provided this Saturday at the Northview neighborhood block party from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. as well.
Collins says this year’s situation mirrors the 1993 incident although back then they led up to and released waters twice before it approached 1,136 feet and the spillway had to be opened.
Collins explains what’s changed since the flooding incident 26 years ago.
Collins says the planning staff is also more educated on the river and lake levels, adding they got caught by surprise by that incident. Officials aren’t ruling out the possibility of the spill gates being opened if the lake level projects to go above 1,136 feet.