CHENEY, Kan. (KSNW) – With a continued drought in much of Kansas, the City of Wichita is now in Stage 1 of its drought response plan.

The first stage of the drought response means that the City will be asking you to conserve water unless we get a lot more rain.

KSN’s Craig Andres stopped by Wichita’s primary water source, the Cheney Reservoir, this week to get a look at water levels there.

At first glance, it doesn’t look empty, and it’s not.

Kansans are in boats, dropping fishing lines in the cold January waters. But this winter, with drought throughout south-central Kansas, there’s less water than normal at Cheney.

“The lake is right at three and a half feet low. So it’s dropped quite a bit, but most of our boat ramps, as far as our main ones, are still accessible,” said Shayn Koppes, Cheney State Park Manager.

Still smooth sailing out here. There’s just a lot more shoreline and exposed rock.

Some areas are more shallow than what’s called a “normal conservation pool” or a full lake.

“Last drought that we had, the lake, I believe it was six feet low. Even then, people were able to still use that east side boat ramp,” said Koppes.

After the drought of 2012, the City of Wichita put together a drought response action plan. In the first stage, now under operation, the City is asking people to conserve water use. That will come into play this spring when people start watering lawns.

If the drought continues, stage two could come into play where the City would mandate water restrictions.

“We can lose on a hot summer day with wind. We can lose over a million gallons in a day,” said Koppes.

A City of Wichita spokesperson tells KSN that we may be a full year away from any mandatory water use restrictions if the drought continues. But this is Kansas, and when it comes to rain and the weather, you just never know.

Cheney still has plenty of boat ramps open, and the camping grounds are expected to be in full swing this spring.

Wichita leaders also point out that as a source of water, the City can also draw from Eqqus Beds north of Wichita, and it remains 95% full, so they don’t expect any mandatory water restrictions until January of next year.