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The Almena Unit is located along the valley of Prairie Dog Creek in north-central Kansas. The unit consists of Norton Dam and Keith Sebelius Reservoir (formerly Norton Reservoir), Almena Diversion Dam, Almena Main and South Canals, and a system of laterals and drains to serve 5,763 acres of project lands. In addition to storing water for irrigation, the unit provides water for use in the city of Norton; protects the valley downstream from floods; and offers opportunities for recreation, conservation, and the development of fish and wildlife resources.
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Storage for the Almena unit is provided by Norton Dam and Keith Sebelius Reservoir on Prairie Dog Creek. The dam is about 2.5 miles upstream from Norton, Kansas. Water is released from Norton Dam for the municipal needs of Norton. Releases for irrigation purposes are diverted by Almena Diversion Dam, about 11 miles downstream from Norton Dam. Water diverted from Prairie Dogs Creek by the diversion structure is carried by the main and south canals and a system of laterals to the lands of the Almena Irrigation District No. 5. These lands are in Prairie Dog Creek Valley and extend from about 2 miles southwest of Almena to 3 miles east of Long Island.
Norton Dam is a zoned earthfill structure with rock riprap on its upstream face. Its height above streambed is 101 feet and it has a crest length of 6,450 feet. The volume of the embankment is 3,740,000 cubic yards.
The spillway is located at the right abutment and consists of an approach channel, a concrete inlet structure, a concrete gate structure, a concrete chute, a concrete stilling basin, and an outlet channel. There are three radial gates in the gate structure. The capacity of the spillway is 96,000 cubic feet per second.
The outlet works is located at the left abutment and consists of a concrete intake structure, concrete conduit, concrete gate chamber, concrete control house, concrete chute and stilling basin, and outlet channel. The intake structure includes a cast iron slide gate used during diversion, the gate chamber which has a high-pressure gate, and the control house which includes a high pressure gate. The outlet capacity is 330 cubic feet per second. Water is released to the stream and to a 16-inch-diameter steel conduit which serves the city of Norton.
The capacity of Keith Sebelius Lake is 134,738 acre-feet. Of this amount, 2,718 acre-feet are allocated for dead storage, 2,566 acre-feet are inactive capacity, 30,651 acre-feet are allocated for irrigation and municipal supply, and 98,803 acre-feet are for flood control.
Almena Diversion Dam is located 8 miles northeast of Norton and about 11 miles downstream from Norton Dam. The diversion dam consists of a reinforced concrete ogee overflow weir about 150 feet long, 19 feet high above streambed, and includes abutment wing walls, a sluiceway with a 6- by 18-foot radial gate, and constant head orifice-type turnouts to the canals with two 72- by 60-inch orifice gates and two 60- by 48-inch turnout gates. Earth dikes 310 feet long and 31 feet high above streambed were included in the construction of this dam.
The Almena Main Canal originates at the headwaters of the Almena Diversion Dam on the south side of Prairie Dog Creek. The canal siphons below Almena to serve lands on the north side and terminates just west of Woodruff. The canal has a length of 20 miles, a capacity of 100 cubic feet per second, and serves 3,830 acres of land.
The Almena South Canal originates at the main canal below Almena and serves the south side of the valley. The canal has a length of 8.3 miles, a capacity of 36 cubic feet per second and serves 1,520 acres of land. The lateral system serves 2,450 acres; the remaining 2,900 acres are served by turnouts from the canals. Of the irrigated lands, about 350 acres are served by privately installed canalside pumps. A total of 6.4 miles of collector drains disposes of excess surface runoff and irrigation waste. There are 17 laterals with a total length of 14.3 miles and capacities ranging from 4 to 15 cubic feet per second.
Norton Dam is operated and maintained by the Bureau of Reclamation. The reservoir operation is integrated with that of other reservoirs in the Kansas River Basin. The Corps of Engineers furnishes the operational procedures for regulation of water stored in the flood control pool.
Almena Diversion Dam and the canals, laterals, and drains are operated and maintained by Almena Irrigation District No. 5.
The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks administers the reservoir water surface and wildlife lands above the dam, and the recreation areas are administered by the Kansas State Park and Resources Authority. The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks also assumes responsibility for the administration of the water surface and wildlife lands above Almena Diversion Dam.
A large portion of land in Norton and Phillips Counties was occupied by settlers in the 1870`s. The population increased slowly until the trend was reversed by technological improvement in agricultural practices and, later, by drought and the depression. In the 1930`s, the downtrend in population accelerated so rapidly that the two-county population decreased from 23,860 in 1930 to 18,081 in 1950. This decrease was primarily in the rural areas, as the principal towns gained in population during that period.
The plan for the Almena Unit generally is that presented in Senate Document No. 191. The only significant changes are the inclusion of a municipal water supply for Norton and the provision for controlled storage of flood flows.
The unit was approved by the Flood Control Act of 1944 (Public Law 534, 78th Congress, 2d session) as a unit of the Missouri River Basin Project (now the PickSloan Missouri Basin Program), published as Senate Document 191, April 1944, and authorized by the Flood Control Act of 1946 (Public Law 526, 79th Congress, 2d session).
The city of Norton receives a full municipal water supply from the reservoir, Keith Sebelius Lake. In 1963, the State of Kansas approved a water right granting the city of Norton a storage limit in the reservoir of 1,600 acre-feet and maximum releases from storage of 1,600 acre-feet per year. A pipeline from the outlet works of Norton Dam to the municipal treatment plant was constructed by the city.
The water surface of Keith Sebelius Reservoir and the adjoining project land provides excellent opportunities for outdoor recreation and fish and wildlife activities. The Kansas State Park and Resources Authority has established a State park on the Prairie Dog Creek arm of the reservoir. There are excellent facilities, including paved roads, boat launching ramps, picnicking, camping, swimming, fishing, day use activities, and modern water and sanitation facilities. Available fish species include walleye, saugeye (sauger/walleye hybrids), wipers, largemouth bass, crappie, and channel catfish. Keith Sebelius Reservoir is an irrigation supply reservoir experiencing moderate fluctuations. It peaks at 2,180 surface acres, and has a year round fishing season
The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks administers 5,656 acres for fish and wildlife. A Game Management and Public Hunting area has been established. Hunting for quail, pheasant, waterfowl, small game, and big game is available. A small waterfowl refuge has been established. The reservoir provides excellent fishing for a variety of species. Public hunting is available for deer, upland game, and waterfowl. Special hunts can be arranged by application for youth, disabled, or family hunts.
For specific information about any of these recreation sites, click on the name below.