Clinton Dam and Lake

Clinton Dam and Lake were constructed and are operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Located at Wakarusa River mile 22.2, approximately 1 mile west of the city of Lawrence, Kansas. The project primarily lies in western Douglas County although a small portion extends into eastern Shawnee County. The lake was constructed to control flooding, municipal and industrial water supply, recreation, fish and wildlife benefits and maintain minimum stream flow on the Wakarusa and Kansas Rivers.


Clinton Lake serves as a popular recreational area. The lake offers opportunities for boating, fishing and other water sports. The surrounding land, part of which is Clinton State Park, allows access to mountain biking trails, camping, hiking, horseback riding, geocaching, hunting, picnicking and wildlife viewing. The Clinton Lake Museum is on the west side of the lake. The Wakarusa Music and Camping Festival is held annually in June and boasts a fine assortment of music from bluegrass to hip hop.

The Wakarusa River is the main source of water flowing into Clinton Lake. The Wakarusa River Basin drains a total of 516 square miles, which extends west from its mouth on the Kansas River about 54 miles. The basin is nearly 17 miles wide. The Clinton Lake dam controls nearly 367 square miles, or approximately 70 percent of the entire Wakarusa River basin, which are located above the dam.

Clinton Lake has a flood control pool of 12,800 surface acres and a multipurpose pool of 7,000 surface acres. Clinton Lake has 85 miles of shoreline at multipurpose pool level. At multipurpose pool level, Clinton Lake stretches 8 miles up the Wakarusa River valley. If the lake ever reaches flood pool level, the lake will extend 13 miles along the valley floor.

The dam consists of a rolled earth fill embankment with an uncontrolled spillway located about 1,200 feet north of the dam, and an outlet works composed of almost 710 feet of 13 foot high arched conduit. It is preceded by two rectangular passages, each 6 feet wide by 12 feet high. Each passage contains a hydraulically operated service gate and both share an emergency gate. Discharges enter a concrete stilling basin with staggered baffle blocks and a concrete end sill to provide energy dissipation. The intake structure and control tower contain all of the operating machinery and equipment.

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