Douglas County Geohydrolgy

Prev Page--Availability || Next Page--Wells, Test Holes, and Springs


Table of Contents




Subsurface Stratigraphy

Outcropping Rocks

Structural Geology

Ground Water
  Recharge and Discharge
  Aquifer Properties

Wells and Springs





Ground-water Resources

Utilization of Ground Water

Public Supplies

Five towns--Baldwin, Eudora, Lecompton, Overbrook (Osage County) and Wellsville (Franklin County)--have well fields in Douglas County that provide the entire supplies for those towns. Lawrence utilizes both surface water and ground water for its public supply. Available logs of municipal wells and test holes indicated on Plate 2 are included at the end of this report.


Two dug wells and six drilled wells (Table 8; PI. 2) supply water for the town of Baldwin. Seven of the wells, ranging from 40 to 60 feet in depth and from 8 to 120 inches in diameter, tap the Ireland Sandstone member of the Lawrence Shale, and one well 26 feet deep and 240 inches in diameter taps both the Ireland Sandstone and alluvial deposits along Spring Creek. Water is pumped from the well field to an elevated 200,000-gallon steel reservoir near the center of town.

Approximately 47 million gallons (144 acre-feet) of water was used in 1955 (Table 7). The water is of good quality, as shown by the analysis in Table 4. Chlorination is the only treatment given the water.


The water supply of Eudora is obtained from two wells about 12 inches in diameter and 64 feet deep, which produce water from alluvium in the Kansas River valley. The average pumpage is about 80,000 gpd (Table 7); in 1955 approximately 29 million gallons (89 acre-feet) was pumped from the well field.

The newer of the two wells was not inventoried, but it is located in the same area and is of similar construction to the well inventoried (13-21-5db).

The water is of good quality except for more than 400 ppm of hardness (Table 4). Water is pumped from the well field to an elevated 50,000-gallon steel storage reservoir for distribution after being softened, treated for removal of iron, and chlorinated.


Both ground water and surface water are now used for the Lawrence municipal water supply, but originally only ground water and later only surface water was used (Lohman, 1938). Six wells ranging from 48.5 to 51.3 feet in depth are located north of the water plant in alluvium along Kansas River (PI. 2). They are each equipped with 12-inch diameter screens, 18-inch casing, and 350 gpm capacity pumps. According to Robert Mounsey, city water superintendent (personal communication), in 1955 the well field supplied 414,817,600 gallons of water or about 34.6 percent of the total supply of 1,198,042,000 gallons. The quality of water in Kansas River changes with its stage and is affected by seasonal changes. Whenever the river water is excessively turbid or contains large quantities of taste- or odor-causing algae, the percentage of well water used is increased.

Normally the river water is somewhat softer than the ground water, but the ground water has a more nearly constant chemical quality and is free from turbidity, taste, and odor-causing organisms. The water is softened, chlorinated, and fluorinated at the treatment plant.


Lecompton obtains its water supply from a well (11-18-34bd) northwest of the town in the alluvium of the Kansas River valley. The well is 10 inches in diameter and 30 feet deep. Average pumpage is reported to be approximately 10,000 gallons a day (Table 6). In 1955 approximately 3.6 million gallons (11 acre-feet) was pumped.

The water is very hard and contains 0.31 ppm iron and manganese (Table 4) but otherwise is of good quality.


Two drilled wells in southwestern Douglas County supply water for Overbrook, which is in Osage County to the West. The wells tap the Tonganoxie Sandstone member of the Stranger Formation. Well 15-17-1ac1 (east well), is 507 feet deep and is eased with 412.5 feet of 6,14-inch iron casing. Well 15-17-1ac2 is 497 feet deep and is cased with 417 feet of 6 1/4-inch iron casing. Each well is equipped with a 35-gpm capacity submersible turbine pump. Water is pumped from the wells to an elevated 50,000-gallon steel reservoir at the east edge of town.

The water is of satisfactory quality as shown by the two analyses in Table 4, although it is hard and exceeds slightly the maximum values recommended by the U. S. Public Health Service for dissolved solids and iron. Analyses of water samples collected April 1, 1953, and December 12, 1955, indicate that the quality of water had improved slightly between those dates. Water treatment consists of chlorination.

The average daily usage is about 20,000 gallons, and in 1955 a total of about 7.3 million gallons (22 acre-feet) was pumped.


Prior to June 1956, two large dug wells, each 60 feet deep, and one 8,4-inch drilled well, 61 feet deep, provided the municipal water supply of the city of Wellsville, Franklin County (PI. 2). In 1956 a fourth well (15-21-4bb), 100 feet deep, was drilled and added to the supply system. All the wells obtain water from the Ireland Sandstone member of the Lawrence Shale.

In 1955 an estimated 22 million gallons, or 68 acre-feet (Table 7), was pumped from the well field through a 50,000-gallon elevated steel storage reservoir near the center of town.

The water is of good quality as shown by the chemical analysis in Table 4. Chlorination is the only treatment given the water.

Industrial Supplies

Cooperative Farm Chemicals Association Ammonium nitrate, urea solutions, anhydrous ammonia, and ammonia solutions are produced by the Cooperative Farm Chemicals Association plant east of Lawrence. Ground water is pumped from nine wells (Pl. 2) in alluvial deposits of the Kansas River valley for use principally in cooling processes, boiler feed, and products manufacture. A total of 471 million gallons of water (Table 7) was pumped from the well field in 1955. Consumptive use amounts to approximately half a million gallons per day During the last half of 1955 the plant also obtained 63 million gallons of water from the city of Lawrence.

Kansas Power and Light Co.

The Kansas Power and Light Co. generating plant between Lawrence and Lakeview is the largest single user of ground water in Douglas County. Six wells in the alluvium of the Kansas River valley provide 1,000 to 1,500 gpm continuously. In 1955 pumpage was approximately 578 million gallons, or 1,774 acre-feet (Table 7).The water is used chiefly for cooling.

National Alfalfa Dehydrating and Milling Co.

The National Alfalfa Dehydrating and Milling Co. has dehydrators at Lakeview and Midland, which operate during the growing season. The Midland plant has storage and processing facilities that operate throughout the year. Approximately 1.5 million galIons of water is used annually by the two dehydrators.

Westvaco Mineral Products Division Food Machinery & Chemical Corp.

Sodium phosphate, phosphoric acid, and dry ice are manufactured by the Westvaco Mineral Products Division in north Lawrence. Ground water, obtained from six wells in the alluvium of the Kansas River valley, is used for cooling. In 1955 the well field was Pumped at a rate of 800 to 900 gpm about 80 percent of the year, and pumpage totaled 414 million gallons (1,271 acre-feet). About 10 to 15 percent of the water pumped is consumed.

Irrigation Supplies

The first irrigation of field crops in the Kansas River valley was probably in the middle 1930's. During the 1940's rainfall was generally above normal and interest in irrigation declined. The years 1952 to 1956, inclusive, were drought years and interest in irrigation was revived. In 1955 an estimated 629 acre-feet of water was pumped from wells and water-table pits in the Kansas River valley in Douglas County, to irrigate 656 acres of crops, principally corn and alfalfa. In 1957, 1,080 acres was irrigated from wells or water-table pits. Irrigation water is most commonly distributed by sprinkler systems, and the wells are pumped at rates of 350 to 1,000 gpm.

Water analyses available indicate that the ground water is satisfactory for crops most commonly irrigated. Ground water in the Kansas River valley generally has a low sodium (alkali) hazard and a medium or high salinity hazard. Crops of moderate salt tolerance, such as corn, alfalfa, wheat, oats, and potatoes, can be irrigated without special practices, but high-salinity water cannot be used on soils having restricted drainage. For a more thorough discussion of the suitability of water for irrigation the interested reader is referred to Agriculture Handbook 60 of the U. S. Department of Agriculture.

No ground-water irrigation is practiced outside the Kansas River valley, as sufficiently high yields generally are not obtainable elsewhere in the county.

Domestic and Stock Supplies

Several hundred water supplies for domestic and stock needs are obtained from wells and springs in Douglas County. During 1955, a drought year, many farm, domestic, and stock supplies were inadequate, and much water was hauled from municipal supplies and from Kansas Emergency Relief Committee wells. It is estimated that, exclusive of water from municipal sources, about 200,000 gpd of water was obtained from wells and springs. The total 1955 use is estimated at 73 million gallons or 224 acre-feet (Table 7).


Pumpage of ground water increased more than 400 percent between 1950 and 1956, chiefly as a result of industrial and irrigation developments. Additional large increases for industry and agriculture are likely to result in the next few years; most of the ground water will be obtained from alluvium and Newman Terrace deposits in the Kansas River valley.

Prev Page--Availability || Next Page--Wells, Test Holes, and Springs

Kansas Geological Survey, Geohydrology of Douglas County
Comments to
Web version Aug. 1999. Original publication date Dec. 1960.