Ford County Geohydrology

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Ground Water


Well Records

Logs of Test Holes




Ground Water, continued

Utilization of Ground Water

The development and utilization of groundwater supplies in Ford County are more highly concentrated in the Arkansas valley than in any other part of the county. Domestic and livestock supplies and a few irrigation supplies have been developed on the upland areas of the county, but the greater depth to water level in most of the upland areas limits the development of large groundwater supplies. The uses of groundwater in Ford County are many. In table 15 the uses of groundwater are divided, principally, as follows: domestic, livestock, public supply, irrigation, industrial, and cooling or condensing. The principal uses are described below.

Domestic and Municipal Uses

Domestic Supplies

Practically all of the domestic supplies in the rural areas and in small towns that have no public water supplies are obtained from wells. In the early days springs and dug wells were used, but in later years drilled wells became more predominant. Springs are the source of supply on a few farms at the present time. Some of the dug wells have been abandoned and replaced by drilled wells. Dug wells have gradually fallen into disfavor because they are subject pollution and are apt to fail in dry weather. Practically all new wells put down in the area are drilled.

The domestic use of water generally includes drinking, cooking, washing, and the cooling of milk and other perishables. Water from some wells or springs may be polluted and care should be taken avoid the use of such water or to remove the source of the pollution. In this area the ground waters generally are satisfactory for a domestic purposes, although some contain objectionable concentrations of fluoride, a few have rather high content of iron, and some are hard enough to be unsuitable for laundry purposes (see "Quality of water").

Livestock Supplies

On many of the farms drilled wells supply water for livestock and on most upland farms the same well supplies water both for domestic use and for watering livestock. Some wells have been put down in pastures for the sole purpose of watering livestock. Most of the stock wells are equipped with windmills capable of pumping a few gallons of water a minute, and some are provided also with auxiliary pump jacks operated by small gasoline engines.

Industrial Supplies

Groundwater is used by several industries in Ford County for many different purposes. For some industrial purposes water must be of a certain chemical character and for others its temperature the most important factor.

The principal industrial use of groundwater in this area is for cooling and condensing. The largest single industrial use of groundwater in Ford County is for cooling and condensing at the power plant of the Kansas Power Company near Fort Dodge. Groundwater is used also for cooling condensers at the booster station of Natural Gas Pipeline Company of America, about 17 miles southeast of Dodge City. Groundwater is used by several industries at Dodge City, including the Fairmont Creamery, the Dodge City Flour Mills, Dodge City Steam Laundry and the Dodge City Warehouse. The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway Company at Dodge City is the second largest industrial user of groundwater in the county. Most of the water is used at the roundhouse at Dodge City for washing and filling locomotive boilers, and smaller amounts are used for depot facilities, stockyards, and miscellaneous purposes. The Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railway Company uses groundwater obtained from two wells at Bucklin for filling locomotive boilers and miscellaneous railroad uses.

Relatively little groundwater is used in the county for air-conditioning except in Dodge City, where most of the water thus used is purchased from the city. Several firms have installed small wells for air-conditioning, however, including the office building of the Kansas Power Company, Duckwall Stores, Inc., a department store and the J.S. Dillon Grocery company in South Dodge City. As given in table 4, the total volume of groundwater developed for air-conditioning in Dodge City in 1938 was about 44 acre-feet, and it is probable that the amount of groundwater used for this purpose will increase in the future. There are several smaller air-conditioning plants installed in private homes and in smaller business houses and restaurants, but well records and pumpage estimates were not obtained for them. According to Mr. Kirkpatrick, city engineer at Dodge City (personal communication), during several periods of extremely warm weather in the summers of 1936, 1937, and 1938, the sewage-disposal plant at Dodge City was taxed to capacity, owing to the large amount of waste water from air-conditioning plants.

Table 4--Estimated pumpage from industrial wells in Ford County, Kansas, in 1938.

Owner Location Use of water Period Number of wells Total pumpage in acre-feet (1)
Kansas Power Co. (new plant) 4 miles east of Dodge City Cooling condensers 1 year 3 2,769
AT&SF Railway Co. Dodge City Roundhouse, locomotive, and depot facilities, etc. 11-1-37 to 11-1-38 2 363
Fairmont Creamery Dodge City Creamery facilities 1 year 1 269
Dodge City Flour Mills Dodge City Cooling condensers, and boiler supplies 6-1-37 to 6-1-38 4 253
J.S. Dillon, Gro. Stores, Inc. Dodge City Air-conditioning 1 year 1 17.4
Kansas Power Co. Office Building Dodge City Air-conditioning 1 year 1 14.6
Duckwalls, Inc., Dept. Store Dodge City Air-conditioning 1 year 1 12.2
Dodge City Steam Laundry Dodge City Laundry facilities 1 year 1 8.9
Dodge City Warehouse Dodge City Washing fruit, produce, etc. 10-1-38 to 12-31-38 1 0.4
Booster Sta. No. 3, Nat. Gas Pipe Line Co. of America Near Mineola Cooling condensers and boiler supply 11-1-37 to 10-31-38 4 122.6
Totals       19 3,830.1
1. One acre-foot is the quantity of water required to cover one acre to a depth of one foot, or 325,851 gallons.

The great advantage of groundwater for cooling is not only its relatively low temperature, but its uniform temperature throughout the year, which approximates the mean annual temperature of the air. The temperature of the groundwater in Ford County ranges from about 57 deg. to 63 deg. F. The temperature of water in any one well, moreover, probably does not vary more than 2 deg. or 3 deg. F. during the year. In general, the chemical character of water used for cooling is unimportant as long as it is not corrosive and does not contain iron or other constituents that might clog condenser pipes. The groundwater used in Ford County for cooling purposes is not corrosive and does not contain any harmful constituents that would interfere with such use.

Some groundwater is used in this area for boilers. Water for this purpose should be relatively free from foam- and scale-forming constituents. Most of the groundwater used for this purpose in Ford County requires treatment for reduction of hardness. Two separate treating plants are maintained by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway Company at Dodge City for the purpose of softening groundwater for boiler use. The Dodge City laundry also maintains a treatment plant for softening its water supply.

The power plant of the Kansas Power Company is situated on the north side of the Arkansas River about 4 miles east of Dodge City. The water supply is pumped from three wells (369, 370, and 371) 152 feet in depth from water-bearing sands and gravels near the base of the Ogallala formation (pl. 2). A fourth well was drilled, but in 1939 it had not been equipped with a pump. The wells are 30 inches in diameter, equipped with 24-inch Armco iron casing, and back-filled with selected gravel. The three wells are equipped with vertical deep-well turbine pumps direct-connected to electric motors. When the wells were put down in 1931, each well yielded between 2,050 and 2,150 gallons a minute with a 50-foot drawdown. In October, 1932, a pumping test indicated that the three wells, when pumped at the same time, yielded a total of 5,590 gallons a minute with drawdowns ranging from 55.5 to 56.5 feet. A similar test in July, 1937, indicated that the total discharge of the three wells amounted to 4,550 gallons a minute with drawdowns ranging from 58.5 to 68.75 feet. In 1939 the yields of the three wells had diminished still further and the average drawdown was about 70 feet. In 1939, generally, only one well was pumped at a time, at the rate of 1,800 gallons a minute, but during peak loads two wells were pumped about 8 hours a day at an aggregate rate of about 3,400 gallons a minute. In the summer the peak load at the plant comes about noon, whereas in winter it comes about 6:00 p.m. The water is moderately hard, as shown by analysis 370 in table 14. The water is used for cooling condensers at the plant, and some of it, after treatment, is used for boiler supply. The initial temperature of the water is about 57 deg., but after the water has passed through the condensers its temperature is raised about 18 deg. The warm water is discharged through a ditch into the Arkansas River.

The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway Company obtains its water supply from five wells situated near the roundhouse at Dodge City. Of this number only two (wells 195 and 196) were in use in 1939 (see fig. 18, pl. 3). A columnar section of one of these wells (195) is shown in figure 18. Well 195 is equipped with a deep-well turbine pump, whereas well 196 is pumped by air lift. Both wells are 148 feet deep and penetrate the Ogallala formation. The water is pumped to two separate steel standpipes 24 feet in diameter, and to two separate water-treating plants. One standpipe is at the roundhouse, the other is at the passenger yard. The total consumption by the roundhouse and depot facilities during the period from November 1, 1937, to November 1, 1938, was 108,655,194 gallons. The balance of the total annual pumpage of 118,366,694 gallons, or 9,711,500 gallons, was used for washing and filling locomotive and stationary boilers, for passenger trains, stockyards, and shops.

Figure 18--Diagrammatic section of well 195 at the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway Company's roundhouse at Dodge City, Kansas.

strained area made of sand, yellow sandy clay, brown sandy clay, and sand and gravel

The Fairmont Creamery obtains its entire water supply from one drilled well situated at its plant in Dodge City. The well is 140 feet deep and is equipped with a 4-inch turbine pump. The pump is operated about 16 hours daily and delivers about 250 gallons a minute. The estimated total quantity of water pumped from this well in 1938 is given in table 4.

The J.S. Dillon Grocery Store in South Dodge City uses a deep well (274) for air-conditioning purposes, and the wastewater is discharged into a shallow disposal well. The deep well (274) taps the Ogallala formation and is used about 6 hours daily during the period from April to October.

The Kansas Power Company uses a small well (197) that taps the Ogallala formation for air-conditioning its office building in Dodge City. The pump is operated intermittently at a rate of about 50 gallons a minute. The estimated total annual pumpage from this well is given in table 4.

Well 205, 100 feet in depth, furnishes water for air-conditioning at Duckwalls Stores, Inc., in Dodge City. About 40 gallons a minute are pumped during 6 months of each year. An estimate of the total annual pumpage for this well is given in table 4.

The Dodge City Steam Laundry develops its own water supply from one deep well (204). The well is equipped with a 2-cylinder plunger-type pump, and the estimated total annual pumpage in 1938 for this well is shown in table 4. Well 204 is situated dose to city well 202, as shown in plate 3. It was reported by Mr. Balderston, owner of the laundry, that for four days during the summer of 1938 the water level in the well 204 at the laundry was lowered below the bottom of the pump intake by the continuous pumping of city well 202. Both wells are drawing from the Ogallala formation. All of the water used by the laundry is softened before being used.

The Dodge City Warehouse installed a drilled well in their plant in September, 1938. It is a shallow well equipped with a small pressure pump capable of delivering about 500 gallons an hour. The well was to be used continuously for about four months of the year and for about three hours daily during the remainder of the year. The estimated pumpage from this well from October to December 31, 1938, is given in table 4.

The only industrial use of groundwater in Ford County outside of the Arkansas valley is that which is used for locomotive boiler supplies by the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railway at Bucklin, and that which is used for cooling condensers and for boilers at the Booster Station No. 3 of the Natural Gas Pipeline Company of America, on the uplands about five miles northeast of Minneola. At the Booster Station four wells (481, 482, 483, and 484) supply all the water used. Three of the wells are equipped with electrically-driven deep-well turbines, and one well is pumped by gas lift (p. 81). The average daily pumpage is about 150,000 gallons; the maximum daily pumpage occurred on August 24, 1938, and amounted to 279,600 gallons. The total pumpage for the year from November 1, 1937, to October 31, 1938, amounted to 39,959,000 gallons. The water that is used in the boilers is treated.

Two wells (12 inches in diameter) are used by the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railway Company at Bucklin to supply water for locomotive boiler use. The wells are 145 feet in depth and are equipped with reciprocating, plunger-type pumps each having a capacity of 100 gallons a minute and operated by steam. The quantity of water pumped is not known. These wells have not been included in table 15.

An estimate of the pumpage of groundwater from industrial wells in Ford County in 1938 is given in table 4. According to these estimates, the total annual pumpage from industrial wells in Ford County in 1938 was about 3,830 acre-feet.

Public Supplies

Dodge City, Bucklin, and Spearville are the only cities in Ford County that have public water systems and each of them is supplied by groundwater pumped from wells. Several of the smaller communities have no public water systems and depend entirely upon private wells. The Kansas Soldiers Home at Fort Dodge is supplied from one deep well (367). Information on the public and institutional groundwater supplies is given in the following paragraphs.

Dodge City--Dodge City (population 8,487) is supplied by four drilled wells. Three of the wells (202, 262 and 273) range in depth from 140 to 147 feet. As a result of a survey to determine the availability of a softer water supply for Dodge City, a fourth well was drilled in 1940, after the completion of the investigation upon which thus report is based. A description of thus well, therefore, is not given in table 15. The new well was put down on the south side of Kansas Highway 45, south of Dodge City, at a site previously determined by test drilling. It is 165 feet deep and is equipped with, an electrically-driven turbine pump. Nine drilled wells with an average depth of 135 feet were put down in 1910 for municipal supply, but have since been abandoned. The locations of the present city wells and the nine abandoned wells are shown in plate 3.

Wells (202, 262 and 273) are equipped with turbine pumps having a combined capacity of 2,800 gallons a minute. The water is pumped directly into the mains, and the excess is conducted by two centrifugal booster pumps into a steel standpipe, with a capacity of 500,000 gallons, that is situated on high ground near the margin of the valley at the north end of Dodge City. The domestic pressure ranges from 50 to 90 pounds to the square inch, and the fire pressure ranges from 90 to 125 pounds. Although each of the three turbines was equipped with a master flow meter, mechanical difficulties in two of the meters made it impossible to get accurate pumpage figures for 1938. The total consumption of water in 1936 was 459,473,000 gallons, or an average of about 1,259,000 gallons a day. There are 238 fire hydrants in the system and 40.86 miles of mains, not including mains that have since been laid to the sewage disposal plant east of the city and to the cemetery west of the city. An analysis (202) of a composite sample of water from all three wells us given in table 14. The water is hard and is not treated.

Bucklin--Bucklin (population 832) is supplied by three wells (466, 467, 468), ranging in depth from 113 to 125 feet. Well 466, near the city hall, is used only in emergencies. Well 467 is in the city hall building, and well 468, put down in 1935, is in the city park (pl. 2). Well 467 is a dug well 7 feet in diameter and is curbed with rock. Well 466 is equipped with a reciprocating plunger-type pump capable of delivering about 70 gallons a minute, well 467 is equipped with a 5-stage turbine and has a capacity of about 200 gallons a minute, and well 468 is equipped with a turbine capable of delivering 400 gallons a minute. The water is pumped directly into the mains, and the excess is conducted into an elevated steel tank, with a capacity of 50,000 gallons, situated behind the city hall. The water system is equipped with a master flow meter but it was not in operation in 1939. J.E. Devore, city clerk, estimates the total annual consumption to be 30,000,000 gallons; the maximum monthly consumption, 3,000,000 gallons (occurring in June); and the maximum daily consumption, 100,000 gallons. An analysis (467) of a composite sample of water from wells 467 and 468 is given in table 14. The water is hard and is not treated.

Spearville--Spearville (population 603) is supplied by three wells (35, 36, 37), ranging in depth from 86.5 to 104 feet. Wells 36 and 37 have been used only intermittently. Well 35 was drilled in 1931 and reconditioned in the summer of 1939. When the waterworks system was originally installed at Spearville in about 1914, the supply was derived from three 8-inch wells equipped with three reciprocating plunger-type pumps. The three original wells have since been abandoned. The present city wells are equipped with deep-well turbine pumps having capacities ranging from 47 to 50 gallons a minute. Well 35 is a drilled well 12 inches in diameter; well 36 is a combination dug and drilled well; and well 37 is a dug well, 10 feet in diameter, curbed with concrete blocks. This latter well was put down in 1935 as a project of the Public Works Administration. According to reports, red clay was encountered at the bottom of the well, and the well was gravel-packed from the bottom to a point above the static water level. Well 35 is situated about 2 1/2 blocks east of the Santa Fe depot on the north side of the tracks, well 36 is under the elevated tank, and well 37 is in the southern part of town (pl. 2). Two of the pumps discharge directly into the mains; the third well pumps into the elevated tank. Storage is provided by an elevated steel tank having a capacity of 60,000 gallons. The average domestic pressure is about 45 pounds to the square inch, and the maximum fire pressure is about 55 pounds to the square inch. There are 26 fire hydrants. Figures on the consumption of water are not available. From records of the number of kilowatt hours of electricity consumed in pumping the wells during the year from September, 1938, through, August, 1939, however, it is estimated that the total quantity of water pumped during that year amounted to about 16,467,800 gallons--an average daily consumption of about 45,120 gallons. An analysis (36) of a composite sample of water is given in table 14. The water is moderately hard and is not treated.

Kansas Soldiers' Home--The Kansas Soldiers' Home at Fort Dodge obtains its water supply from a single deep well (367) situated in the power plant. Although there are three deep wells on the premises, two of them are used entirely for irrigation. Well 367 is the oldest of the three and furnishes the water supply for the institution and for the houses in Fort Dodge and for cooling condensers at the power plant and the ice plant. This well is 12 inches in diameter and 150 feet deep and is equipped with an electrically-driven turbine pump capable of yielding about 300 gallons a minute. It is used about 12 hours a day during half of each year, and as much as 18 hours a day during the remainder of the year. The total quantity of water pumped from this well during 1938 is estimated to be 95,310,000 gallons, or about 292 acre-feet.

Table 5 gives the approximate annual pumpage from wells for public supplies in Ford County. According to the records given in this table, about 1,845 acre-feet of groundwater is pumped each year for municipal and institutional use.

Table 5--Pumpage from wells for public water supplies in Ford County, Kansas, in 1938.

Public Water Supply Total annual
pumpage (acre-feet)
Dodge City 1,410
Bucklin 92
Spearville 51
Kansas Soldiers'
Home at Fort Dodge
Total 1,845

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  Kansas Geological Survey, Ford Geohydrology
Comments to
Web version April 2002. Original publication date Dec. 1942.