Page 2–The GeoRecord Vol 4.2
Spring 1998
From the Director

by Lee C. Gerhard,

Director and State Geologist

Tradeoffs are inevitably made between the activities that provide energy, minerals, timber, and food, and the need and desire to preserve ecosystem services.

Science in public policy has rarely been so visible as in this legislative session and in the national realm. In the Kansas River valley, access to sand and gravel resources is in conflict with recreational actvities; throughout the state, concerns have been voiced about the impact on ground-water quality of large, corporate animal feeding and rearing facilities. Nationally, discussion of a treaty to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to mitigate global warming has generated much attention. Here in Kansas, the Legislature is taking action, while nationally, rhetoric continues without the science to reach either consensus or conclusion.

Maintaining detachment, not taking sides on issues, is not easy. I want to publicly commend the Survey team that studied sand and gravel resources of the Kansas River for its report on the needs and supplies of construction-materials resources in Kansas. They accomplished their task without comment on the intense debate over recreational useage of portions of these resource-access areas. They accepted the criticism from various special interest groups, stayed the course, and provided much-needed information to the Legislature and all the participants in the debate.

Increasing conflicts between recreation, environmental quality, and natural-resource demand have been a personal interest for years. This fall, under the banner of professional geological societies, the Kansas Geological Survey, and some Federal agencies, I am convening a conference focusing on these topics. This conference brings together scientists with a range of expertise and concerns about the environment and resources. The following statement from the conference organizers describes its purpose and neatly summarizes this conflict.

Society demands resources to maintain a standard of living commensurate with people’s expectations, and a suitable level of environmental quality is inherent to this demand. Tradeoffs are inevitably made between the activities that provide energy, minerals, timber, and food, and the need and desire to preserve ecosystem services. Such tradeoffs are often highly controversial and politically volatile . . . . Differences between geological and ecological views may reflect real and inherent tensions arising from the growth of industrialized society, but scientists must seek common ground in order to balance resource and environmental goals. Failure will likely result in alternating extremes of exploitation and preservation. The turn of a popular phrase can change the course of public opinion, but fundamental geologic and biologic processes are not swayed by polls. If we are not careful, true conservation will be lost in rhetoric and scrambling for dominance of perspective. We must begin our dialogue.

I hope we can make a difference.

Water Data on the Web

With the advent of the World Wide Web, Kansas water data are increasingly available. From the KGS home page, the Hydrogeology button links users to several large, easy-to-use water data bases that are regularly updated and expanded.

The KGS Water Information Storage and Retrieval Database includes data on thousands of wells in the state, including wells where water levels are measured as part of the state’s water-level measurement program. Information on those wells includes January 1998 water levels and all historical water-level measurements. The data base can be searched by county or by legal description.

A data base of Water Well Completion Records is also being developed. Searchable by county or legal description, this data set consists of water-well completion records, forms filed by water-well drillers with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment for water wells drilled in the state. This data set shows the location, type, use, casing, nearest source of contamination, and other information about wells.

To check on streamflow in the state’s rivers and creeks, look at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Kansas District home page. It offers current data from the U.S. Geological Survey stream-gaging stations in the state.


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