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News Release, Kansas Geological Survey, Dec. 13, 2001

Survey to Measure Western Kansas Water Levels

LAWRENCE--Water specialists from the Kansas Geological Survey, based at the University of Kansas, will once again be in western Kansas the first week of January, measuring water levels in more than 500 wells.

The measurements are taken at the same time that the Division of Water Resources of the Kansas Department of Agriculture measures an additional 700 wells. Together the Survey and the Division measure wells in 47 counties in central and western Kansas.

The results are used by water managers and agencies to understand general trends in groundwater levels in the state. Lenders and realtors also use the results to help determine land values. Most of the wells that are measured are used for irrigation and tap into the High Plains Aquifer, which includes the well-known Ogallala Aquifer. The High Plains Aquifer underlies much of western and central Kansas.

The wells are measured in January, after the end of the irrigation season, so that water levels have had time to stabilize from the previous year's pumping.

"To get the most useful water data, we need to sample the same wells at about the same time each year, using consistent methods," said Rick Miller, chief of the Survey's exploration services section and one of the Survey crew members measuring the wells.

Weather permitting, Survey crews will begin measurements in northwestern Kansas on January 4. They will then move south, working in the area around Syracuse, Garden City, and Liberal on January 5, 6, and 7. They will complete measurements around Dodge City on January 8, depending on weather and road conditions.

Crews will use global positioning systems and digital maps to confirm well locations. They will enter measurement results into laptop computers and leave tags for landowners at each well showing the new measurement. Measurements of individual wells made in January 2001 are now available at the Survey's web site ( The 2002 results will be available at the same site shortly after February, 2002.

Miller said that Survey crews appreciate the cooperation shown by local landowners during previous measurement trips and look forward to the same cooperation during this and future measurements.

"The help and cooperation of local landowners, and the communities of western Kansas, are crucial to this program," said Miller "This data is important in effective water management, and it would not be available without their cooperation."

Links of interest to this article:
KGS Public Information Circular 12--"Measuring Water Levels in Kansas," by Richard D. Miller, Rex Buchanan and Liz Brosius
WIZARD--The KGS Water Information Storage and Retrieval Database

Story by Rex Buchanan, (785) 864-2106
For more information, contact Rick Miller, (785-864-2091)

Kansas Geological Survey, Publications and Public Affairs