Page 2–The GeoRecord Vol 7.1
Winter 2001
From the Director

by Lee Allison,

Director and State Geologist

Director's Photo


Kansas is leading the region in many ways to better manage and preserve our ground-water resources. For the KGS, this is one of our most important missions

The High Plains aquifer is the most important ground-water source for an eight-state region in the Midwest and Rocky Mountains. Rather than a single aquifer, the High Plains is actually a set of aquifers including the Ogallala and other surficial units. The High Plains aquifer is the primary source of water for irrigation in western Kansas. But in some areas, the water table is dropping to its economic limit. Unless irrigation practices or volumes pumped change significantly, more areas may have to revert to dryland farming within as little as 25 years.

The newly published “Atlas of the High Plains Aquifer” (KGS Educational Series 14) summarizes decades of ground-water data into a series of maps that paint the clearest picture ever of this critically important underground geologic reservoir. An electronic version of the Atlas has been available on the KGS web site for many months (, but the printed version was released only in late December 2000. It took three years to produce with funding from the Kansas Water Plan. Co-editors Jeff Schloss and Bob Buddemeier of the KGS and Blake Wilson of the Kansas Water Office worked closely with state and local water agencies to ensure that the Atlas presents the most relevant data in formats that will be easily understood by water users and planners. The Atlas is one of the most important publications ever produced by the KGS.

KGS’s involvement in producing the Atlas is just one of many efforts underway on the High Plains aquifer. This past summer, we took the lead in organizing the geological surveys of the eight states and the U.S. Geological Survey into a coalition to coordinate and promote better scientific, comprehensive understanding of the aquifer. The High Plains Aquifer Coalition intends to share data, techniques, talent, and ideas. We propose that each state survey serve as an information portal to all the state entities that have data on the High Plains aquifer. We want all data in digital formats and available through the internet. We want software tools that will allow visitors to the web site to create individualized or specialized maps, analyses, and models using data from wherever it is stored in a distributed digital geolibrary system.

A source of potential funding is legislation proposed to the U.S. Senate last fall. The Kansas Water Authority (KWA) reviewed a bill by Senator Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico that proposed investing $70 million per year for 20 years into efforts to make the southern part of the High Plains aquifer sustainable. KWA’s analysis determined that the proposal should cover the entire eight-state region and would require $250 million per year to fully implement. They identified state surveys as the appropriate agencies to coordinate the scientific component of the program. A question for the upcoming session of Congress is whether the Kansas concept and the Bingaman bill go forward as separate efforts or as an integrated plan.

In an independent initiative, the Ogallala Aquifer Institute (OAI) was recently established in Garden City, Kansas, to carry out an educational mission throughout the eight-state region. There is a natural basis for cooperation and partnership between the Coalition and OAI. Scientific studies of the aquifer by themselves do no good. The results of research need to be disseminated, explained in a commonsense way, and then appropriately implemented to make policy and management decisions.

Kansas is leading the region in many ways to better manage and preserve our ground-water resources. For the KGS, this is one of our most important missions.

Kansas Earth Science Teacher of the Year

Bill Dymacek, earth science teacher at Nike Middle School in Gardner, has received the 2000–2001 Excellence in Kansas Earth Science Education Award from the Kansas Geological Foundation and the Kansas Earth Science Teachers Association. This award of $1,000, funded by the Kansas Geological Foundation, is given to an outstanding earth science teacher in grades K–12. The award was presented in December at the Kansas Geological Foundation’s annual meeting in Wichita. Finalist for the award was Lois Eppich of Saints Peter and Paul School, Seneca, who received a gift certificate for publications from the Kansas Geological Survey.

Dymacek is the eighth recipient of the Excellence in Kansas Earth Science Education Award. The 1999–2000 winner was Angela Epps, from California Trails Junior High School in Olathe.

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