CHENEY, Kan. (KSNW) — Cheney Lake, Wichita’s main water supply, is six feet lower than normal right now.
This recent rain hasn’t changed the lake, and some are taking advantage of the lower lake levels.
The only accessible boat ramp is on the East side of Cheney Lake, though that isn’t stopping people from exploring parts of the lake once flowing with water.
“It’s odd walking out where you’re supposed to be in a boat,” said Cheney Lake Association President Jon Lovett. He added. “I’ve been across there in a boat just this year, and it’s already down to a sandbar.”
Instead of catching fish, many are finding all kinds of treasures.
Cheney Lake Association President Jon Lovett found a boat motor lost about six years ago, two old well casings sticking out of the sand, and a beaver skull.
“We’ve had a surge of people come into the park office and filling out metal detecting permits so they can go out there and try to find the goodies,” said Cheney State Park Assistant Park Manager Mitch Schwartz.
The lower levels are also allowing people to pick up trash and clean up parts of the lake not usually accessible.
“It’s affected camping a little bit, but you can still come out to the lake and camp and hike and do those other things, but it is just a little bit harder to get on the water,” said the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks Wichita Regional Supervisor, Shayne Koppes.
The low levels do impact Wichita’s water supply.
“We want everybody to understand every drop of water they use affects the lake,” said Lovett.
The city’s recent Water Conservation Progress Report shows the lake is 67.3% full.
Wichita gets water from Cheney Reservoir and the Equus Bed Aquifer.
When lake levels are low, the aquifer can help supplement the supply.
Koppes said the light soaker rain on Sunday and Monday will probably only bring the level up by a tenth of an inch.
“We would need a substantial downpour,” said Koppes.
Cheney Lake State Park said it is good to have lower levels going into the Spring, but not this low.
They hope some winter moisture can bring levels to two feet below normal. That way, it can help with any possible flooding in the Spring.
If you want to use a metal detector on Cheney Lake, a permit is required.
You can visit the State Park’s Office to get one.