BURLINGTON — An area reservoir that serves as a vital water source for communities and industries, as well as a back-up supply for a nearby nuclear power plant, is being allowed to increase its storage capacity.  

John Redmond Reservoir, near Burlington, has been depleted at a significantly higher rate than projected by the federal government, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said.

The state recognized the need to address the high loss of storage and initiated a request for a reallocation of storage in 1996, according to a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers news release. Jo-Ellen Darcy, assistant secretary of the Army for Civil Works, recently approved that reallocation, the release said.

“While all Kansas reservoirs are important to our state, John Redmond Reservoir is a source of municipal and industrial supply as well as backup supply for the Wolf Creek Nuclear Power Plant cooling lake,” Gov. Sam Brownback said. “I appreciate the Kansas Water Office’s determination to work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and see this 2-foot pool rise allocation come to fruition.”

The reservoirs built in Kansas in the 1950s and 1960s are vital to the state for flood protection, recreation and water supply, the release said.

The reallocation raises the lake level elevation from 1,039 feet to 1,041 feet permanently, the release said.

“We have been steadily losing our capacity to store water in the reservoir because it is silting in,” Col. Michael Teague, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said. “It has reached the point where we are starting to see an impact on our obligations to the state of Kansas’ water supply. I am pleased this was approved so that we can continue meeting the water supply needs and addressing the sediment accumulation rates at the reservoir with our partners in the Kansas Water Office.”

The 2-foot pool rise at John Redmond will increase the state’s storage capacity by a little more than 17,000 acre feet, Tracy Streeter, Kansas Water Office director, said.

The past two years of drought have taxed Kansas water supply sources, and as another way to regain the storage capacity loss, the Kansas Water Office plans to dredge the sediment in John Redmond through a phased approach beginning in 2014, the release said.