Even though the Dakota has been used as a source of water for more than a century, its hydrologic character has been poorly understood and the issues surrounding its use have been inadequately addressed. Little was known about either the quantity or the quality of ground water or the impact of regional or local development on the Dakota that could be used to guide regional or local planning until recently. There were also concerns related to human activity, such as the potential hazards of disposing oil-brine in shallow zones beneath the Dakota in central Kansas and the protection of usable ground-water resources in the Dakota.
In response, the Kansas Geological Survey began an eight-year investigation into the hydrogeology and water quality of the Dakota in 1988. The goal of the Program is to provide information to state and local agencies and users, and to assist the agencies in the development of appropriate management plans and policies. This program is unique because it is designed for proactive rather than reactive water-resources management of a regional aquifer system. The broad objectives of the program are to: (1) characterize the geologic framework of the Dakota aquifer; (2) define the ground-water flow system within the aquifer to identify sources of recharge, discharge, flow path, and areas of interaction with other aquifer systems; (3) assess the impact of development in the Dakota and interacting aquifer systems, including the impact of oil-field brine disposal in the underlying Permian on the Dakota aquifer in the areas of aquifer interaction.
During the planning stage it was recognized that a multidisciplinary effort was needed to understand the influence of the aquifer framework geology on the subsurface hydrologic system and water quality. As a result the backbone of the program is an integrated, interdisciplinary research strategy that incorporates elements of stratigraphy and sedimentology, petrophysics, subsurface hydrology, and water quality. Furthermore, the wide extent of Dakota in Kansas mandated a phased approach to the research to keep the size and scope of the investigations manageable. Thus the focus of the research has shifted with time from where the aquifer is shallow and currently under development (State FY90 94) to the deeper, undeveloped regions in northwest Kansas (State FY95 96). Each subregional project began with data-base development, progressed to the formulation of conceptual and mathematical models, and finally, applied the models to management issues with state and local agency input. Data-base development, mapping, data analysis, and mathematical modeling of the system were facilitated using state-of-the-art software packages.
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