Tribland’s two biggest lakes are currently full and are waiting to release water downstream, where water levels also are too high.
The lake elevations at both Harlan County Reservoir near Republican City and Lovewell Reservoir in northern Jewell County, Kansas, currently are above the conservation pool (or full mark) and into the flood pool — to the tune of 7 1/2 feet and 8 feet, respectively.
Both reservoirs are unable to release water at this time beause the Milford Reservoir conservation pool it sitting at around 93 percent full.
“Harlan is not a lone system. Everything is tied together,” said Tom Zikmund, park manager at Harlan County Reservoir.
Bill Whitworth, operations manager at Milford Reservoir, said the flood pool is in phase 3, meaning it is at the highest level. The reservoir, which connects the Republican and Kansas rivers near Junction City, Kansas, is releasing water to bring levels down, but is limited as to how much it can do so because areas farther down the stream also remain high.
If waters levels get to high, they would go over the spillway and onto a highway next to the reservoir.
“If you have a choice, let it go over the dam,” Whitworth said.
Zikmund said it is difficult to determine how water levels will change over the next week, due to weather. He said hot air and wind helps speed up water evaporation but another rainstorm will bring in more water.
“We’re at the mercy of Mother Nature,” Zikmund said.
Whitworth said the Milford dam is functioning as intended, but the high water levels can put a damper on recreation.
Harlan currently is open to boats, while Lovewell has only one of three boat ramps open. Lovewell does have shoreline fishing available.
“You barely back up and you’re in the water,” said Tami Kearns, operations manager at Patterson Harbor Marina on Harlan County Reservoir.
Kearns said that none of the campsites at Patterson Harbor are affected, but other marinas’ campsites are experiencing some flooding.
Both lakes are waiting to release water over the next week.
“Until they drop, we can’t drop,” Kearns said.
About 50 percent of primitive campsites currently are flooded at Lovewell, according to Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism. Utility camps are not affected.
“As far as we know, we’ll be at this level until Fourth of July,” said Lisa Boyles, administration specialist at Lovewell State Park for Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism.
Kearns said that the weather this year has likely contributed to a decrease in foot traffic at Harlan.
“This has not been a kind winter spring or summer,” she said. “We’re still in a recovery.”
Jana Coils, owner of the Lovewell Marina and Grill, says foot traffic is higher than normal, as other local lakes are closed and visitors look for new lakes.
“As bad as we’ve had it, we know others have had it worse. So we are very grateful,” Coils said.
The fireworks show at Lovewell still is scheduled for July 6. Those interested in visiting the lakes and parks are recommended to call ahead for conditions.