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Finney County
2018 to 2021
Project Type:
Storm Water

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 existing 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

The Plan

First, engineers planned to remove the existing dam and redirect the river to the old river channel nearby. Next, a temporary dam would be constructed across the Arkansas River to allow construction of the updated headgates. When construction completes, the temporary dam will be removed, and the nearby channel will be plugged with a new dam.

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.


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

The Arkansas River channel was diverted to the old river channel, and construction has begun on the headgates. To accommodate the farmers’ schedules, construction on the new headgates is scheduled from September to March. Construction is planned to be finished by March 2021. We are happy to help improve irrigation for our Kansas farmers, and look forward to the new and improved headgates.