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Ground-water Quality in Lincolnville

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Effects of Water-well Construction on Temporal Variability of Ground-water Quality in Lincolnville, Marion County, Kansas

by Pamela K. Chaffee

Originally published in 1988 as Kansas Geological Survey Open-File Report 88-26. This is, in general, the original text. The information has not been updated. An Acrobat PDF version (3 MB) is also available


Seasonal and short-term variations were observed in ground-water quality from domestic water wells tapping a confined aquifer in the rural town of Lincolnville, Kansas. The seasonal trend consisted of declining or stable constituent concentrations from late summer through late winter. In early spring through early summer concentrations increased, coincident with increasing precipitation. Short-term water-quality fluctuations were most often observed during this latter period.

The frequency and amplitude of the variations were dependent upon the quantity and quality of soil water and the shallow ground water in an intermittent underlying aquifer, the Herington Limestone Member, and the construction of the wells. Wells that allowed hydraulic interconnection between the shallow zones and the confined Winfield aquifer showed the greatest concentrations of chloride, nitrate, total organic carbon, and/or fecal Streptococcus bacteria. In addition, greater values of specific conductance and more dissolved gases, sediment, and sometimes discolored water were observed after periods of extended precipitation generally in the period from late winter to early summer.

Wells studied were constructed both prior to and since 1974 when regulations governing minimum well-construction standards were established in Kansas. Hydraulic interconnection occurred in pre-1974 wells that lacked any surface casing or enough to extend through the entire thickness of the Herington or were completed in leaky well pits. It also occurred in post-1974 wells in which the grouted interval did not extend through the Herington.

Wells constructed to prevent hydraulic interconnection between water in the soil or Herington and the Winfield aquifer produced ground water of generally good quality with concentrations of dissolved inorganic constituents that did not fluctuate significantly throughout the year. However, wells that were located downgradient of other wells with a hydraulic interconnection produced ground water exhibiting short-term variations in quality on a seasonal basis.

Wells located near nitrate contamination sources commonly yielded water in which nitrate concentrations fluctuated and often exceeded 45 mg/L as NO3. Such sources included a bulk-nitrogen fertilizer storage and handling facility and application of nitrogen fertilizers to yard and garden areas.


I would like to express my appreciation to the Kansas Geological Survey for the financial and material support they provided throughout and beyond the duration of this project.

Special thanks go to Mr. Howard O'Connor, Geohydrology Section, without whose collaboration and field assistance this endeavor would not have been possible. He provided valuable guidance in organizing the final report and critically and technically reviewed the manuscript. His involvement with the Kansas water well industry has greatly influenced my interest in this subject matter.

Local water well contractors: Paul Backhus, Paul Benda, Joe Zinn, and the late Arnold Riffel provided technical information, several opportunities for firsthand experience with water well drilling and construction, drill cuttings, and in some cases detailed driller's logs.

The cooperation, hospitality, and interest expressed by the people of Lincolnville and the surrounding area were greatly appreciated.

Drs. Lawrence Hathaway (KGS), Stephen Randtke and Charles Judson (Civil Engineering Department and Mass Spectrometry Laboratory, respectively, University of Kansas), conducted the laboratory analyses. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment conducted bacterial examinations on the collected samples.

Drs. Ernest Pogge and Donald Whittemore also provided valuable guidance in organization of and devoted considerable time in the review and editing of the final manuscript.

The impressive illustrations were made possible by the graphical expertise of Renate Hensiek. Anna Corcoran assisted by preparing the large tables of data, and Frank Wilson provided the opportunity to complete the manuscript.

Lastly, I wish to thank my husband, Dave, for his support (financial and moral), patience, and impatience that provided the ultimate impetus for the completion of this thesis.

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Kansas Geological Survey, Geohydrology
Placed on web Sept. 12, 2016; originally published 1988.
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