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News Release, Kansas Geological Survey, Dec. 16, 2002

Survey to Measure Western Kansas Water Wells

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

The Division of Water Resources of the Kansas Department of Agriculture works with the Survey in the project by measuring 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 measured wells 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.

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

Weather permitting, Survey crews will begin measurements in northwestern Kansas on January 6 and 7. They will then move south, working in the area around Syracuse, Garden City, and Liberal on January 8, 9, and 10. They will complete measurements around Dodge City on January 11 or 12, depending on weather and road conditions.

Crews will use global positioning systems, digital maps, and aerial photographs to confirm well locations. They will enter measurement results into laptop computers and leave tags for landowners showing the new measurement. Measurements of individual wells made in January 2002 (as well as historical measurement data) are now available at the Survey's web site ( Results of measurements made in January 2003 will be available at the same site shortly after February 2003.

"The Survey will be examining whether water levels in western Kansas have dropped at a faster rate than average as a result of substantial pumping of groundwater during the current drought," said Don Whittemore, chief of the Survey's geohydrology section.

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:
Reports on Water Levels
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, Public Outreach