Our Dynamic River

When we think about the Kaw many things come to mind; sandbars jutting out from a tree lined channel, lazy meanders snaking through fertile farmland, stories about rampaging floods...the Kaw is a dynamic, ever-changing river. Its channel is not locked in stone, it is sand that shifts and flows, reshaping itself as the water level rises and lowers.

Dredging sand, building levees, creating reservoirs--all of these activities impact the river channel in an interactive fashion. It is an integrated system and nothing can be done in isolation. Build a wing dike, the channel reacts, and downstream property owners may be affected. Remove sand, the channel reacts, and upstream property owners may be affected. Predicting the outcome of any one activity requires us to know about all the activities impacting a reach.

The reasons for the Kaw's ever changing channel are explored in the pages that follow. We hope that by gaining a better understanding of the dynamics of our river we will be able to make better informed decisions about in-river sand dredging, levee and wing dike construction, and other activities that affect the channel, river banks, adjacent property, bridges, water intakes, and the health and well-being of all of us who live along the river.

Photo Credit: Lisa Grossman