The primary source of water for the City of Emporia is the Neosho River. The Neosho River system is quite extensive, it originates in the Kansas Flint Hills near the Geary, Morris County line northwest of Emporia and flows southeast through Kansas and Oklahoma before converging with the Arkansas River in eastern Oklahoma.
Before the Council Grove Reservoir was constructed the City of Emporia initiated several projects to ensure that the waterworks had a steady flow of water to supply the needs of the city. Between 1915 and 1925 the Ruggles and Correll low-water dams were constructed on the Neosho River near Americus, Kansas. The purpose of these dams was to provide additional water storage during dry seasons. Then in 1936, an emergency reservoir was built across Kahola Creek 18 miles northwest of Emporia creating what is now known as Lake Kahola. In 1954 an intake pump station was constructed on the Cottonwood River that had a pumping capacity of 1.5 million gallons per day. However, today with Council Grove Reservoir, Emporia is fortunate to have a reserve of water to meet the ever-increasing needs of the community.
Council Grove Reservoir represents 16.5 billion gallons of storage.