Skip Navigation

Waste Disposal, Kansas Soils

Prev Page--Contents || Next Page--Landscapes


Soil information can contribute to the solution of many waste-disposal problems in Kansas, and can effectively be combined with studies relating to geology, engineering, ecology, aquatics, meteorology, and those of other disciplines, to yield integrated approaches to environmental improvement. This publication emphasizes the contribution of soil maps and descriptions. The work was financed by the Kansas Geological Survey, uses mainly soils data provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and has considerable contributions from the Kansas State Department of Health, Kansas Agricultural Experiment Station, and from many other sources. To emphasize the universality of the support, mention should be made of the contribution of Cornell University, which supplied half-salary sabbatical support while the author assembled and organized this information,

Successful waste disposal consists essentially of consideration of the alternatives open for solution of specific problems, in light of the resources available. Thus, with adequate funding, public municipal collection facilities and large sewage treatment plants are generally the best method to handle liquid waste from concentrated houses and urban areas. Where housing is scattered, septic tanks and seepage fields, seepage pits, sewage lagoons, or other engineering designs may solve the waste disposal problems. In most cases the most feasible method of waste disposal is determined ultimately by the economics of the particular situation; the best waste disposal method is generally the cheapest method that will meet local environmental quality standards and safeguard public health.

This publication concentrates mainly on the suitability of soils for disposal of liquid wastes from individual homes through septic tanks and soil seepage systems. Consideration also is given, however, to soil suitability for sewage lagoons and for solid waste burial in sanitary landfill. Soil information provided, such as the depth to bedrock and depth to apparent water table, can also be useful in engineering planning and design related to trench excavations for sewer lines, landscaping after excavations, evaluating trafficability of soils for heavy construction equipment, determining seepage and drainage conditions onto and away from areas, identifying hazards of flooding, and handling other important construction aspects. Soil information is also valuable for solving some industrial waste problems, such as in determining the suitability of areas for spray irrigation from feedlot lagoons and various processing plants. Soil maps are particularly valuable because they enable predictions to be made of performances and problems of different engineering systems in different areas, with reasonable accuracy, even before construction begins. Thus engineering designs can be made that correct the soil limitations (if that is feasible) in the planning stages of the waste disposal facilities.

This publication was created to provide information to all people interested in solving relevant waste disposal problems, where soil characteristics are contributing factors. Although an informed public is a necessity, this information will probably be most useful to workers in public agencies (e.g. Kansas Geological Survey, Soil Conservation Service, Kansas State Department of Health, Kansas Agricultural Experiment Station). The language of the report is that of current common usage by soil scientists, with the glossary, explanations, and additional information provided for laymen.

Although this publication was designed for use with detailed soil maps, a general soil map of Kansas is included in an envelope inside the back cover; the general soil map will be useful to show the location of counties and the general distribution of some of the soils of major acreages. The map legend includes brief descriptions of some of the major soil characteristics in Kansas. The general soil map inside the back cover was published separately by the Kansas Agricultural Experiment Station, in cooperation with the Soil Conservation Service. Arrangements to include the map in this bulletin were facilitated by Prof. O. W. Bidwell and Dr. F. W. Smith, Director of the Agricultural Experiment Station.


This study results from the encouragement of Dr. Paul L. Hilpman, Chief, Environmental Geology Section, Kansas Geological Survey. Generous provision of information and data review by Mr. Charles W. McBee, State Soil Scientist, and the staff of the Soil Conservation Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture made the organization of material possible. In the early part of the work, Mr. R. W. Eikleberry and Dr. J. Stiegler of Kansas State University and Agricultural Experiment Station provided orientation to sources of information about soils and soils problems in Kansas. Mr. J. H. Duncan and Mr. M. Gray of the Kansas State Department of Health provided designs and information relating to engineering and related aspects of the problems. Prof. O. W. Bidwell of Kansas State University reviewed the final manuscript, as have the other participants in the effort. A great deal of information was further provided by the author's many other colleagues within and outside of the state of Kansas. Numerous conferences with Mr. H. P. Dickey, Soil Scientist at Lawrence, were especially helpful. Sabbatic support of Cornell University, and administrative support of the Kansas Geological Survey were greatly appreciated.

Prev Page--Contents || Next Page--Landscapes

Kansas Geological Survey, Geology
Placed on web Aug. 7, 2009; originally published March 1974.
Comments to
The URL for this page is