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News Release, Kansas Geological Survey, Dec. 18, 2003

Survey to Measure Water Wells in Western Kansas

LAWRENCE--Water specialists from the Kansas Geological Survey, based at the University of Kansas, will measure water levels in more than 500 water wells in central and western Kansas during the first week of January, 2004.

The measurements will be made in cooperation with the Division of Water Resources of the Kansas Department of Agriculture, which measures an additional 700 wells. Together the Survey and the Division measure wells in 47 counties in the central and western parts of the state.

The results are used by water managers and agencies to understand general trends in groundwater levels in the state. Private landowners and businesses also rely on the information in making water-related decisions. 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 2, then move south, working in the area around Syracuse, Garden City, and Liberal on January 3, 4, and 5. They will complete measurements around Dodge City on January 6, depending on weather and road conditions.

Last year's measurements showed that water levels dropped an average of about 2.5 feet in northwestern Kansas, 4.75 feet in southwestern Kansas, and 1.5 feet in west-central Kansas from January 2002 to January 2003. Those declines were probably related to heavier-than-usual pumping associated with the recent drought.

Measurements of individual wells made in January 2003 (as well as historical measurement data) are now available at the Survey's web site ( Results of measurements made in January 2004 will be available at the same site in February 2004.

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

Kansas Geological Survey, Public Outreach