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Finney County
2018 to 2021
Project Type:
Irrigation Control

Project Case

Irrigation Control Improvements in Western Kansas

The Finney County Water Users Association manages, monitors and maintains the irrigation ditch in Finney County, Kansas.

Farmers in western Kansas rely on irrigation for their livelihoods, and the irrigation control structure, or headgates, near Deerfield, Kansas needed some updates. Engineers had the challenge of designing new headgates as well as formulating a plan to divert the Arkansas River into a nearby channel for construction of the structure.

The Challenge

Diverting the Arkansas River channel

The former headgates were wooden, lacked security fencing and had trouble monitoring the water flow of the channel. Engineers wanted to divert the Arkansas River around the headgates to update the structure with new concrete and stainless-steel headgates. Diverting the river to modify the headgates would involve local, state and federal approval.


The Process

State Interest

Some landowners disagreed with diverting the river for construction on the headgates. Because the plan would improve water flow for agricultural workers, the Southwest Kansas Groundwater Management District 3 became involved in the project and expressed state interest in improving the headgates. Further support from local, state and federal organizations allowed the project to continue.

The Plan

First, the existing dam was removed and the river was redirected to the nearby river channel. Next, a temporary dam was constructed across the Arkansas River to allow construction on the headgates. When construction completed, the temporary dam was removed and the nearby channel was plugged with a new dam, and water was directed back into the Arkansas River from the old river channel.


Engineers and farmers in the Finney County Water Users Association applied for permits to divert the river to the nearby channel for construction. They worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Kansas Division of Water Resources to secure the permits for the project, which approved their plan to divert the river.




The Outcome

Design, permitting and diversion went swimmingly

To accommodate the farmers’ schedules, construction on the new headgates started in fall 2020 and was completed in the spring of 2021. Sometimes, construction on a river involves redirecting part of the river, but this project was unique because it involved diverting the Arkansas River to a nearby river channel for construction. We are happy to help improve irrigation for our Kansas farmers and assist them in a challenging yet rewarding project.