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Geohydrology of Cowley County

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The principal aquifers in the area that lies mainly east of Grouse Creek are limestone and sandstone units of Early Permian and Late Pennsylvanian age. Yields of wells are small in this area and may not be adequate for domestic and stock use. The water is. hard but of usable quality except in the southern part of the area, where it locally contains excessive chloride and sulfate. The land is used principally for grazing, and ponds are used for stock water.

The Wreford and Barneston Limestones, of Permian age, are the principal aquifers of the area extending from a line near Walnut River on the west to Grouse Creek on the east. In parts of this area much water is available from cavernous Nolans Limestone still higher in the section. Adequate water supplies for domestic and stock use are available in much of the area, but in some parts the water has become polluted and unusable. The water from cherty limestone formations is a hard, calcium bicarbonate water but is suitable for most uses. Water from the cavernous limestone formations generally contains sulfate, and in some areas it contains too much for most uses.

The area that lies principally west of Walnut River has the largest supplies of available ground water. The aquifers are composed of unconsolidated rocks of Pleistocene age and represent all but the first of the major divisions of the Pleistocene Series.

The Kansan and Yarmouthian deposits are the least important of the Pleistocene aquifers. They occupy the highest topographic position in relation to younger deposits and contain a larger percentage of silt and clay than other Pleistocene deposits. Supplies of good water adequate for domestic and stock use are available in parts of the area.

The Illinoisan and Sangamonian deposits occupy an intermediate topographic position between the Kansan deposits and the younger Wisconsinan terrace deposits, and are an important source of ground water. Yields range to 200 gpm and the water is good except in one small area of pollution. The water is used principally for domestic and stock needs, but some water is used for irrigation and industrial purposes. This aquifer might be considered for development as a supplemental supply for the city of Winfield.

The Wisconsinan terrace deposits and alluvium of the Arkansas River valley are the most important sources of ground water in the county and produce the greatest yields. Although the water is generally of usable quality, some of the water in this area is not suitable for irrigation use; some has been polluted in past years by oil-field brine in the valley area. Oil fields are present throughout this area, and brine from some of them has entered the aquifer and then has moved laterally downgradient. The brine seems to move as a body, becoming only slightly diluted around the edges. Several public-supply and domestic wells have been abandoned because of this contamination. Inasmuch as the strongest concentration of brine is in the lower part of the aquifer, some usable water can be obtained from partially penetrating wells of low yield.

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Kansas Geological Survey, Geology
Placed on web May 21, 2009; originally published August 1962.
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