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Kansas Geological Survey, Public Information Circular (PIC) 12
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Accuracy of Well Measurements

For the water-level data to be useful, it is critical that the same well be sampled each year using identical methods. Map-reading errors, incorrect legal descriptions, and confusion with nearby wells can lead to misidentification. To eliminate (or at least minimize) such errors, KGS researchers have begun using a computer system called WaterWitch, which uses Global Positioning System (GPS) technology and an extensive digital map system to accurately locate wells in relation to such geographic landmarks as towns, highways, roads, houses, and rivers and streams. Besides acting as a navigational aid and data recorder, WaterWitch combines detailed site comments and photographs to enhance and improve location certainty, well familiarity, and visual identification.

Using WaterWitch has increased the number of wells routinely measured in a day and improved the overall precision of the data. Currently about 40% of the wells have GPS-measured latitudes and longitudes that insure future measurements will always come from the same wells. WaterWitch accepts on-site entry of depth-to-water measurements and comments, automatically checks data quality, records the GPS location of each measurement, and permits real-time review of the previous 10 years of historical data for the well.

Quality-control procedures are an important part of the water-level measurement program. Wells with measurements that deviated from the local trends during the initial visit are revisited and remeasured to confirm the recorded water depths. Wells that were not successfully measured during the primary trip also are revisited. In addition, about 6% of the wells measured by the KGS are randomly selected for remeasurement to make sure they were accurately measured during the initial trip that year.

Making Water-level Data Available to the Public

Both the current year's measurements and historical water-level data are archived and maintained at the KGS in a large, statewide computer data base known as Water Information Storage and Retrieval Database (wizard). This centralized data base of Kansas water-level information can be accessed through the World Wide Web (http:// or on CD-ROM. Information on Kansas ground-water resources can be obtained for areas as small as a section or as large as the state. Data analysis, reports, and general queries also are available on the more than 50,000 wells that make up its primary inventory.

Once data from the annual water-level measurement program are recorded and checked, they are entered into wizard and electronically available to the public. Various kinds of scientific analysis that follow the yearly data acquisition--including determinations of saturated thickness, depth to water, depletion trends, and water-resource predictions--are all possible using software that can directly access wizard.

This data base currently includes all significant water-level information gathered by the U.S. Geological Survey and the KGS. Eventually, data from DWR, Kansas Department of Health and Environment, the City of Wichita, and groundwater management districts will be incorporated into the data base. Once this data base is complete, it will be the most inclusive listing of water-well information anywhere in Kansas.

Information on water levels also is available from the KGS in traditional, published form. The 1998 results, for example, were published in January 1998 Kansas Water Levels and Data Related to Water-level Changes, Technical Series 12 (Woods et al., 1998).

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Kansas Geological Survey, Public Outreach
1930 Constant Ave., Lawrence, KS 66047-3724
Phone: (785) 864-3965, Fax: (785) 864-5317
Web version December 1998