Bureau of Reclamation Banner
Wichita Project
Photo of Cheney Dam and Reservoir
Project Links
Project History
Project Data
Contact Information
Related Facilities
General Description| Plan| Development| Benefits
General Description

The Cheney Division of the Wichita Project consists of the Cheney Dam and Reservoir on the North Fork of the Ninnescah River. This division of the project provides a supplemental water supply to the city of Wichita, flood control for protection of downstream areas, and recreation and fish and wildlife benefits. Because of the flood control features of the division, approximately 3,700 acres of land downstream from the dam can be irrigated, although no stored water is to be provided for irrigation purposes.

Return to top


Municipal water supply storage is used to supplement the present supply pumped from wells. On an equal-use basis - well water and reservoir water - the supply is estimated to be adequate until the year 2010. A pumping plant and pipeline was constructed and is operated by the city of Wichita to convey water from Cheney Dam to the water treatment plant in the city.

No direct flow from the reservoir will be used as an irrigation supply, although the alleviation of flood threat will permit irrigation of about 3,700 acres of suitable land in scattered tracts below the dam. Diversion of water for irrigation will be individual or group developments.

Facility Descriptions
Cheney Dam and Reservoir

Cheney Dam is on the North Fork of the Ninnescah River about 6 miles north of Cheney and 24 miles west of Wichita, Kansas. The site is at the common intersection of the boundaries of Kingman, Reno, and Sedgwick Counties, with portions of the dam lying in all three. The upstream slope of the dam is protected by soil cement and the downstream slope is protected by a 12-foot horizontal layer of topsoil and grass. The crest of the dam provides a roadway 30 feet wide. The spillway is an uncontrolled morning-glory inlet leading into a 9.5-foot circular conduit and stilling basin. The river outlet works consist of an intake structure, an 11-foot-diameter conduit to the gate chamber containing two 6- by 7.5-foot high-pressure regulating gates and two 6- by 7.5-foot high-pressure emergency gates. Downstream of the river outlet works gate chamber is a 15-foot-diameter flat bottom conduit and stilling basin. The municipal outlet works consists of a vertical intake structure with four 6-foot-square motor operated slide gates for selective withdrawal of water from elevations 1379.0, 1389.0, 1399.0, and 1409.0, a foot bridge, and a 6- by 8-foot emergency gate leading into an 8-foot-diameter circular conduit to the axis of the dam, at which point flows are carried by an 8-foot-diameter steel pipe in a 12.5-foot-diameter conduit. The city of Wichita constructed and operates a 93-cubic-foot-per-second pumping plant at the dam which conveys municipal water through a 5-foot-diameter pipeline to the water treatment plant in the city.

Development of Cheney Reservoir required the relocation of several miles of electrical transmission lines, telephone lines, and petroleum pipelines, as well as county road relocations and modifications which were accomplished through relocation contracts with the owners.

Return to top



Studies of the Ninnescah River Basin were undertaken by the Bureau of Reclamation as part of an overall investigation of the Arkansas River Basin and were continued by the Arkansas-White-Red Basin Interagency Committee, which was established in 1950. A water-use and control plan resulted from these investigations. The plan included optimum use of available surface waters to provide a regulated water supply for the city of Wichita, and irrigation, flood control, fish and wildlife, and recreation benefits. Construction of multiple-purpose reservoirs at the Cheney and Murdoch sites on the North and South Forks, respectively, of the Ninnescah River was an integral part of the plan. The Murdoch site has been renamed the Norwich site.

The city of Wichita developed a series of municipal water supply wells northwest of the city, but further development was hampered because of cost and distance. A closer source of suitable surface water to supplement the pumped well supply was sought. The quality of water and the municipal and industrial pollution ruled out development of the water of the Arkansas River, and conveyance distances made development of stream sources other than the Ninnescah prohibitive in cost. The general plan was accepted by the city and the Cheney site was chosen for the first stage of construction. A report by the Bureau of Reclamation in 1957 formed the basis for authorization of the project.

Although dry-farming methods of agriculture were customary in the vicinity prior to 1953, an increase in irrigated farming has developed. Construction of Cheney Reservoir minimizes the risk of flood damage and will allow irrigation of certain bottom lands downstream totaling about 3,700 acres. These lands, if developed for irrigation, will not receive reservoir water or contribute to repayment of construction costs.


Public Law 86-787 authorized the Cheney Division on September 14, 1960, by act of Congress, (74 Stat. 1026).


Construction of Cheney Dam began in 1962, and was completed in 1965.

Return to top


Municipal and Industrial

The project provides storage and delivery of a supplemental municipal and industrial water supply to the city of Wichita, Kansas. Cheney Dam and Reservoir provide storage and regulation of available surface waters of the North Fork of Ninnescah River. A pumping plant located at the dam and a 5-foot-diameter pipeline were constructed by the city of Wichita for conveying the regulated flows from Cheney Dam to the water treatment facilities.

Storage began at Cheney Dam with closure of the river outlet works gates on November 5, 1964. Delivery of municipal and industrial water to the city of Wichita began in the summer of 1965. Operation and maintenance of Government constructed project facilities by the city of Wichita began October 1, 1965. The conservation storage in Cheney Reservoir gradually increased until it was filled in October 1968.


Cheney Dam and Reservoir, features of the Wichita Project, are on the North Fork of the Ninnescah River about 6 miles north of Cheney and 24 miles west of Wichita, Kansas. The site is at the common intersection of the boundaries of Kingman, Reno, and Sedgwick counties with portions of the dam lying in all three. The construction of Cheney Dam and Reservoir has provided this otherwise and region of Kansas with a variety of recreational uses and fish and wildlife benefits. Located near Wichita in south-central Kansas, Cheney State Park at Cheney Reservoir provides most species of sport fish common to Kansas. White bass and walleye are the favorites of anglers, and there is good fishing for crappie, channel catfish, striped bass, and largemouth bass. There are excellent camping, boating, swimming and picnicking facilities, and trailer park facilities with electric, water, and sewer hookups.

The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks administers the recreation areas at Cheney Reservoir, including some 1,900 acres of land and over 5,400 acres of water and over 5,200 acres of land and 4,100 acres of water for conservation and management of migratory birds and other wildlife.

For specific information on Cheney Reservoir click on the name below.

Cheney Reservoir
Flood Control

The project works provide flood control benefits in protection of downstream areas. Flood control operations at Cheney Dam (http://www.usbr.gov/dataweb/dams/ks00017.htm) involve cooperation between the Corps of Engineers, the city of Wichita, and the Bureau of Reclamation. No significant flood control releases were made from Cheney Reservoir until after the conservation storage had been filled in October 1968. Controlled releases have since been made for the protection of downstream areas.

The Cheney Reservoir has 80,857 acre feet of capacity assigned to flood control. The Wichita Project has provided an accumulated 14,570,000 in flood control benefits from 1950 to 1999.

Return to top

Last updated: Apr 05, 2013