News Release, Kansas Geological Survey, Apr. 20, 1998
A new technical publication from the Kansas Geological Survey, based at the University of Kansas, describes groundwater availability and quality for twelve counties in the northeastern corner of the state.
The book provides groundwater information for all or parts of Nemaha, Brown, Doniphan, Atchison, Jackson, Jefferson, Leavenworth, Wabaunsee, Shawnee Douglas, Wyandotte, and Johnson counties, an area that was covered by glaciers during the Ice Ages, about 600,000 years ago.
In particular, the report focuses on two sources of groundwater. One source is the alluvial aquifers that lie next to the region's major rivers, such as the Kansas and the Missouri, as well as smaller creeks and tributaries. Another source of water--one that is less-understood but important--is known, in geologic terms, as "buried valleys."
"These are ancient valleys that existed in the landscape before the time of the glaciers," said William Johnson, KU professor of geography and one of the authors of the report. Some of these ancient valleys were more than three miles wide, 400 feet deep, and more than 75 miles long.
"As the glaciers moved into the state, they filled those valleys with sand, gravel, clay, and other rock debris," said Johnson. "These valleys, now buried, are capable of producing fairly large amounts of water, especially where they are mostly filled with sand and gravel."
According to the report, some of the wells in glacial valleys may yield as much as 900 gallons of water per minute, though considerably smaller amounts are more common.
For the most part, the quality of water from these glacial deposits is good, though in some places it may be "hard," or contain larger amounts of calcium bicarbonate. In some local areas, levels of iron, manganese, sulfate, nitrates, and chloride are also high.
The report includes a detailed map showing the topography of the area's bedrock, information that is particularly helpful when picking locations to drill water wells.
"This report will be useful to communities and consultants who are searching for high-capacity wells," said William Johnson. "It provides technical information that can help guide water use in an area that is experiencing growth in terms of population and industry."
Copies of the report, "Hydrogeology and Geochemistry of Glacial Deposits in Northeastern Kansas," are available from the Kansas Geological Survey (1930 Constant Ave., Lawrence, KS 66047, or telephone 785-864-3965) for $25.00 plus $3.00 shipping and handling. Kansas residents should add 6.9% sales tax on the entire amount of the order.
Story by Rex Buchanan, (785) 864-3965
Kansas Geological Survey, Publications and Public Affairs