WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Riverfest this year has been heavy on festival and light on river.
The river is closed because it’s moving too fast to safely have people enjoying water events.
“We watch the water events where they do water races,” said Helen, a Douglass resident who came to Riverfest on Wednesday with her kids, John and Elizabeth. “I usually come every year. Mostly for Dippin’ Dots and face painting.”
The CEO of Wichita Festivals, Mary Beth Jarvis, says the water is still too swift to go out and play.
“The river’s still moving really fast, so we’re watching it every morning,” said Jarvis. “And just a week and a half ago we were at like 16,000 cubic feet per second. We’re now down to below eight. But we need it to be at about two.”
So it’s now a wait and see situation.
KSN asked who measures the river? We were directed to Wichita Public Works and Jim Hardesty. Hardesty says they go off the U.S. Geological Survey measuring.
So KSN went to USGS where we found Chris Moehring, hydrology technician.
Moehring dropped a Doppler system in the water to test the speed of the river, and it’s still moving fast.
“What I’m doing here is actually testing,” said Moehring. “It uses sonar technology to measure the depth and velocity of the water underneath it.”
There is a secondary testing method at the John Mack Bridge. There is a box that takes readings of the river velocity and sends back those results to USGS in Wichita via satellite signals.
The Doppler in the water confirms those readings.
“As I tow it back and forth across the river, it tracks along the bottom and gives us a width and with those three calculations we can come up with a discharge,” explained Moehring.
The river needs to be moving at 2,000 cubic feet per second for safe water play for Riverfest. So, it’s a watch and wait situation for putting the river fully into Riverfest.
“So we will continue to watch it, and the first thing I think we might get in would be the power craft,” said Jarvis. “The Wagon Masters River tour. So we’re going to cross our fingers and hope by the end of the week we can get that in.”