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Seward County Geohydrology

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Ground Water, Continued

Utilization of Water

The records of the wells in Seward County that were measured during July and August 1940 are given in Table 10. The water obtained from these wells, almost all of which are drilled, is used for domestic, stock, municipal, railroad, industrial, and irrigation supplies.

Domestic and Stock Supplies

Water for domestic and stock uses comes from wells ranging in depth from about 13 feet to 257 feet. The shallowest depth to water level found in Seward County, 9 feet, was that of well 80 which is not in use. The deepest water level, 249 feet, was in well 118. Almost all domestic and stock wells are cased with either 4-inch wrought-iron casing or 5-inch galvanized-iron casing. Man of the wells have spigots for drawing water from the pipe directly at the well head and most of them are equipped with drains which may be opened to drain water from the pipe above the winter freezing line. The water is moderately hard but is suitable for most domestic and stock uses.

Municipal Supplies

Both Liberal and Kismet, the two organized communities in the county, have public-supply systems utilizing water from municipally owned wells.

The water supply for Liberal is obtained from five wells drilled in the city park in the northern part of the city. City well 1 was drilled with a hydraulic-rotary drilling machine and was complete in 1931 at a reported depth of 418 feet. The well is cased with 18 inch steel casing and is equipped with a turbine pump powered by a 50-horsepower electric motor. The reported water level was 12 feet in 1940. The well is reported to yield 420 gallons a minute with a drawdown of 83 feet.

City well no. 2 was drilled in 1931 to a depth of 506 feet and was cased to a depth of 185 feet with 18-inch steel casing and from 185 feet to 506 feet with 12-inch steel casing. The well is equipped with a turbine pump powered by a 135-horsepower 6-cylinder natural-gas engine. The well formerly yielded 750 gallons a minute with a drawdown of 126 feet after 24 hours of pumping. In 1944 the well yielded 435 gallons a minute with a drawdown of 115 feet after 4 hours of pumping.

City well no. 3 was drilled in 1919 to a depth of 345 feet and was cased with 18-inch steel casing in the upper part and 15-inch steel casing in the lower part. The casing is finished with a perforated screen. The 14-stage turbine pump has a rated capacity of 250 gallons a minute and is operated by a 50-horsepower electric motor. The well is reported to yield 250 gallons a minute with a drawdown of 14 feet after one hour of pumping.

City well no. 4 was drilled to a depth of 565 feet and was cased with 12-inch steel casing. The well is equipped with a turbine pump powered by a Diesel engine. The well is reported to yield 320 gallons a minute. The static water level is 117 feet below land surface.

City well no. 5 was drilled in 1943 to a depth of 533 feet. The static water level was 121 feet below land surface when the well was completed in December 1943 but had declined to 155 feet below land surface by August 1944. The well is equipped with a turbine pump powered by an electric motor. The well is reported to yield 220 gallons a minute and to have a drawdown in excess of 195 feet after 10 hours of pumping.

Water is stored in two reservoirs having a combined capacity of 750,000 gallons, and is pumped from the reservoirs into the mains by one turbine pump and three centrifugal pumps having a combined capacity of 3,650 gallons a minute. Pressure is maintained by an elevated storage tank having a capacity of 85,000 gallons. In addition to the municipally owned reservoirs, the nearby Army air base has a 250,000-gallon reservoir in which water purchased from the city of Liberal is stored.

The average daily consumption of water, which was about 500,000 gallons in 1940, had increased to approximately 2,000,000 gallons in 1944.

The residents of Kismet purchased water from the Chicago, Rock Island, and Pacific Railway Company until about 1935 when a municipal water-supply system was installed. The city-owned well was drilled to an estimated depth of 250 feet. The casing is open at the bottom only, is 6 inches in diameter, and is made of galvanized iron. Gravel is reported to be the chief aquifer. The pump, which also lifts the water to the storage tank, is a 250-gallon-a-minute vertical centrifugal pump powered by a 7 1/2-horsepower electric motor. The reservoir is a 37,500-gallon tank elevated 80 feet above the land surface. The water is distributed by gravity. The consumption is estimated by Zed Coffey, the city marshal, to average 100,000 gallons a month in winter and 500,000 gallons a month in summer. The total cost of the system, including the well, is placed at $4,000. A chemical analysis of the water is listed in Table 9.

Railroad Supplies

The Chicago, Rock Island, and Pacific Railway Company maintains water-supply wells at Kismet and at Liberal. Similar wells were maintained at Arkalon until that community was cut off from the railroad by the construction of a cut-and-fill designed to reduce grade and to eliminate curves in crossing Cimarron Valley.

The City of Kismet was formerly supplied with water obtained from the railroad's well, as previously mentioned. The well is reported to be 245 feet deep and is cased with 12-inch wrought-iron casing. The aquifer is a coarse sand. The surface pump, a plunger type with a capacity of 85 gallons a minute, is operated by a 60-horsepower steam engine and also lifts the water to the 38,000-gallon elevated storage tank.

The same railroad has three locomotive-supply wells (railroad nos. 5, 7, and 8) and one stockyard well in its Liberal yards; No. 5, the one farthest west, is reported to be about 169 feet deep and to yield 150 gallons a minute with a drawdown of 7.5 feet. The well is equipped with a turbine pump. Railroad well no. 7, intermediate in position between the other two, is reported to be 200 feet deep, to have a capacity of 60 gallons a minute, and to be equipped with a single-action pump jack operated by a 15-horsepower internal-combustion engine.

Railroad well no. 8, the easternmost locomotive-supply well, was drilled in 1923 and is reported to be 300 feet deep. It is cased with 12-inch steel casing to a depth of 268 feet. The bottom of the casing is finished with a 60-foot strainer. The aquifer is a coarse sand extending from 270 to 300 feet below land surface. The double-action plunger pump has a capacity of 116 gallons a minute and is operated by a 15-horsepower oil engine. The stockyards well is reported to be 183 feet deep. The water from the wells is lifted to elevated tanks by the surface pumps.

Industrial Supplies

Two natural-gas pipeline compressor stations have been constructed in Seward County and both rely upon supplies of well water. The station of the Northern Natural Gas Company was in process of construction during the period of this investigation. The following information was supplied by Frank Rabb, the company's resident construction engineer. Two wells were drilled in June 1940, the west one to a depth of 266 feet and the east one to a depth of 264 feet. The logs of the two wells are essentially alike and only one of them is included in the section on well logs. The wells were cased with 10-inch steel casing to a depth of 251 feet, the bottom 30 feet having been perforated with 216 1 by 6 inch holes and protected by 12-inch copper gravel guard. The wells were gravel-packed to the top, the gravel particles ranging from 3/4-inch to 1 1/2 inches in diameter. The static water level was 184 feet below land surface. Two electrically driven turbine pumps having capacities of 50 gallons a minute each were to be installed. Pumping tests indicated a yield of 100 gallons a minute with a drawdown of 6 feet after 10 hours of pumping. The water is stored in an elevated steel tank.

The Panhandle Eastern Pipeline Company has constructed a compressor station in the Cimarron Valley near Arkalon. The station is supplied with water obtained from five wells, four of which were drilled in 1930 and 1931 and the fifth in 1937. Information relative to the most recently drilled well was given by H.H. Duff of the company's resident staff. This well was drilled to a depth of 147 feet. The aquifer is a clean water sand encountered between the depths of 93 and 145 feet. The bottom 104 feet of the 13-inch casing was perforated with 72 holes to the foot. The lower 131 feet of the hole was walled with 1/4- to 1-inch gravel, the top 16 feet having been walled with clay. The well is equipped with a vertical centrifugal pump having a rated capacity of 200 gallons a minute and operated by a 10-horsepower electric motor. The water is stored in a 75,000-gallon elevated metal storage tank (standing about 40 feet above the land surface). Booster pumps also are employed in lifting the water to the storage tank. No information on the older wells was available at the local office.

Possibilities of Further Development of Industrial Supplies from Wells

Abundant supplies of natural gas and ground water are available in Seward County for the development of industries. Seward County is underlain by thick deposits of water-bearing material that would yield moderate to large quantities of water to wells (Pl. 3). Industrial wells could be developed in almost any part of the area provided preliminary test drilling indicated an adequate thickness of coarse-grained water-bearing material. The area in which industrial supplies could be developed is much larger than the area in which irrigation supplies could be developed because industry would not be as limited by the type of soil and by the pumping lift.

Irrigation Supplies

The deficiency of precipitation during the past decade (1931-1940) has occasioned a considerable interest among the residents of the county in the possibilities of irrigation with water from wells. Two irrigation projects have been attempted to date, the earlier one now abandoned and the later one still in the proving phase of its operation (Pl. 6). The wells (128 and 22) are listed and described in Table 10, but in view of the general interest, more complete accounts are given below.

Liberal Deep-Well Irrigation Company project--The Liberal Deep-Well Irrigation Company project (Lee Larrabee, who supplied most of the following information, President, and Willard Mayberry, Secretary-Treasurer) was the result of an effort to demonstrate the feasibility of small-scale irrigation with water obtained from deep wells. The supply well (128) was drilled in 1937 on the C. M. Light farm a short distance north of Liberal. The well was reported to be 350 feet deep and the chief aquifer was a coarse sand from 175 to 225 feet below the land surface. A 15-inch steel casing was installed and was enclosed within a gravel envelope 12 inches thick. A 200-foot section of the casing was perforated with shutter-type apertures. The well was equipped with a 7-stage turbine pump having a capacity of 1,000 gallons a minute and operated by a 96-horsepower natural gas engine. The well was reported to yield 256 gallons a minute with a drawdown of 126 feet. Schoff (1939, p. 124) cites the following expenses in its construction: cost of well, including casing and gravel envelope, $3,000; cost of pump, $2,100; cost of engine, $1,200; and total cost, $6,300.

The equipment was installed too late in the summer of 1937 for a crop to be irrigated. In 1938, 60 acres of land was seeded to diversified garden truck. The crop that was grown was satisfactory but market prices were below normal and the income from the sale of the produce was less than the expenses of operation. No effort was made to produce a crop in 1939 and in 1940 the project was abandoned.

Harlow irrigation project--This project (well no. 22) was undertaken by R. Y. Harlow in the late spring of 1940 on the Harlow farm in sec. 5, T. 31 S., R. 34 W. The farm lies part way up the valley slope on the east side of Cimarron River at the north boundary of the county. The project was completed on July 25, 1940, all the necessary work having been done by Mr. Harlow and his son.

Using a team and a slip, the Harlows excavated a rectangular pit (Pl. 6) to a depth of about 34 feet. Two wells were then dug into the floor of the pit by means of a sand bucket, the east well to a depth of 13.6 feet through sand and fine gravel and the west well to a depth of 15.7 feet through the same material. The layers of sand, gravel, and silt that were penetrated are thin-bedded and some of the seams of gravel and sand are strongly cross-bedded (Pl. 6B). Occasional cobbles of hard rock and boulders of soft clay are visible in the walls of the pit. The sediments are not indurated although there are thin zones of caliche.

Open-end oil barrels were then installed as casings, these being irregularly perforated by means of hammer and chisel. Two 6-inch supply lines are connected to a vertical centrifugal pump having a capacity of 1,000 gallons a minute. The pump is driven by a 4-cylinder gasoline engine connected with the pump by a belt drive. An inclined 10-inch discharge pipe carries the water from the pump to the earthen reservoir at the surface. The rate of discharge is estimated by Mr. Harlow to be 450 gallons a minute and is limited by the drawdown in the shallower cast well.

The project supplies water for the irrigation of about 15 acres of sandy silt soil planted to cane and garden truck. The water moves from the reservoir to the fields in open ditches. No evaluation of the success of this project could be made at the time of this investigation. An earlier irrigation effort was made about 25 years ago by Mr. Harlow, the water then having been supplied by two windmill wells. The earlier experiment is reported to have produced good crops.

Possibilities of Surther Development of Irrigation Supplies from Wells

The water table in most of Seward County lies too far below the land surface for water to be pumped economically for irrigation. The only place where the water table is near the land surface is in Cimarron Valley where most of the level bottom land has been removed by the widening channel of Cimarron River.

The only place on the upland areas of Seward County where the water table is less than 100 feet below land surface is an area of about 28 square miles between Liberal and the Stevens County line (Pl. 2). A large part of this area, however, is underlain by dune sand and is not suitable for irrigation. It was in this area that the first gas well in the Hugoton field was drilled; hence there is an abundant supply of low-cost fuel available for use in pumping water for irrigation where the depth to water is not excessive and where the soil and slope are suitable. Inasmuch as only small areas are suitable for irrigation the quantity of water available should be adequate to supply all the wells that may be drilled.

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Kansas Geological Survey, Geohydrology
Web version Sept. 2001. Original publication date March 1948.
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