Olpe City Lake is situated on the eastern edge of the Flint Hills region of Kansas. The lake is located one mile west and one mile south of the city of Olpe. Construction of the 90 acre lake was completed in June of 1964. The 1,280 acres of native tall grass prairie drainage basin contribute to good water clarity; however, shoreline gradient has degraded causing wave action and colloidal clay bottom sediments to lead to unacceptable levels of turbidity. In 2013, 26,630 cubic yards of bottom sediment near shore were pushed up into nine piers and one island to deepen the shoreline to reduce wind-induced turbidity and improve water quality. Fill from the excavation were pushed up into berms (peninsulas) to enhance shoreline angling access. Funding from the Reservoir Fisheries Habitat Partnership was used to purchase 1,915 tons of limestone rip-rap to armor the reconstructed shorelines (3,050 linear feet). Limestone rip-rap would reduce shoreline erosion, improve water quality, and provide fish habitat. Water willow plantings were made to enhance shoreline nursery cover and further reduce the impacts of wave action on exposed shorelines.
Restoring habitat in aquatic systems requires efforts on the part of all reservoir users. Citizens of the City of Olpe recognized that high quality recreational experiences are important to their quality of life. Olpe City Lake was unable to provide this quality experience due to habitat degradation as a result of lake aging (sixty years post construction). The City of Olpe, along with its partners, addressed these issues to recreate a functioning aquatic system that will enhance the outdoor experience of its citizens.
Like many reservoirs in the “Ag Belt” Olpe suffered from sedimentation caused by sediment loads from the watershed and shoreline erosion caused by fluctuating water levels and wave action. The City of Olpe, along with Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism addressed these issues by lowering the water level and, using heavy equipment, pushing in-lake sediments into a series of berms and islands. These newly created and restored shorelines were then protected from further degradation using rip-rap. However, without corrective land-use practices, sediments from the watershed will degrade the restoration efforts and habitat over time.