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KC Water Prepares Now for Possible Low River Levels

Posted on October 14, 2021

(Kansas City, MO) – The mighty Missouri River is KC Water’s primary source for drinking water. But if the river ever got too low, KC Water would need a little help. That’s where auxiliary pumps, or ‘mud puppies’ as they are sometimes called…come in. You can watch part of the installation of the mud puppies in this video.

“When the river drops to a lower point, we cannot pump water out of the river, so we use these pumps to kick water back into the wet well so we can continue to pump water over to the plant for treatment,” said David Williams/ KC Water Maintenance Mechanic.

This is a careful process. The pipes must be placed in at just the right height and level, and the wind must not be too strong.

Drought conditions continue to impact the Missouri River in states like Iowa and the Dakotas according to the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers so KC Water is preparing now by installing these auxiliary pumps in case the river level gets too low this winter. Each auxiliary pump, weighing about 35,000 pounds in all, will push 40 million gallons of water per day to the plant. The water treatment plant averages about 90 million gallons a day during the winter.

“Customers should know that we are planning properly to make sure that we maintain all the water flow needed for the system to ensure customers are not without drinking water,” says Aaron Balliet/ KC Water Water Supply & Treatment Division Officer.

It’s been 17 years since KC Water last used auxiliary pumps in the river and if they are needed again, KC Water will be ready.

For more information contact Heather Frierson, KC Water Media Relations Coordinator, at 816-513-0280, cell 816-674-0211.


KC Water maintains and operates water treatment and distribution systems, stormwater management systems, and wastewater collection and treatment systems for residential and business customers in Kansas City and for wholesale customers in the Kansas City area.  KC Water is primarily funded by fees charged to customers based on their use or impacts on the three utility systems.

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