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Chase County Geohydrology

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Discharge of Subsurface Water

Discharge of subsurface water has been divided by Meinzer (1923, pp. 48-56) into ground-water discharge (discharge of water from the zone of saturation) and vadose-water discharge (discharge of soil water not derived from the zone of saturation). Ground water also moves out of Chase County by subsurface percolation in both the consolidated and unconsolidated rocks, eventually to be discharged by evaporation or transpiration or through springs and seeps or wells.

Evaporation and Transpiration

Water is lost to the atmosphere directly from the soil zone and zone of vadose water by evaporation. Also through the process of transpiration, plants discharge large quantities of water to the atmosphere from the vadose zone. The use of soil water is of great importance to agriculture for crops in most areas of Chase County are dependent on this type of water for growth, but significant amounts of ground water from the capillary fringe and, to a lesser extent, from the zone of saturation, are discharged by transpiration in all the valley areas by trees, alfalfa, and other plants.

In the upland areas considerable amounts of water from water-bearing limestone beds are transmitted into surficial slope deposits where the water is removed by evaporation and transpiration. Little or no ground water is lost to plants in the upland areas except by seepage along the outcrop of water-bearing limestones, as the uplands are almost entirely devoid of trees or other deep-rooted plants, the vegetative cover consisting almost entirely of native grasses.

Springs and Seeps

The flow of Jack Spring in sec. 25, T. 22 S., R. 7 E. (Table 6, P1. 6A) was measured on October 29, 1947, during a low flow stage by W. W. Wilson and determined to be discharging ground water at the rate of 95 gallons per minute, or about 50 million gallons per year. During much of the year, the rate of discharge is considerably more than 95 gallons per minute. This was the largest spring measured in Chase County, but numerous other springs, mostly of smaller size, were noted. The rocks included within the Chase group, especially in the southwest quarter of the county, supply water to the largest, most dependable springs. Springs in other sections of the county emerging from rocks of the Admire and Council Grove groups, as a rule, are not as large or dependable. Throughout the county certain limestone formations are characterized by a line of shrubs and green vegetation along their line of outcrop. This growth is made possible by the seepage water that emerges along the line of outcrop, thus providing a steady, dependable water supply for the plants. A short distance above and below the limestone outcrop only native grasses are present.

Table 6--Yields of four of the largest springs in Chase County.

Name Location Flow,
gallons per
Palmer SpringSW NE sec. 7,
T. 18 S., R. 8 E.
75*Wreford limestone
Rock SpringSE NE sec. 9,
T. 21 S., R. 7 E.
34**Barneston limestone
Jack Spring†SW NW sec. 25,
T. 22 S., R. 7 E.
95**Barneston limestone
Perkins Spring†Lot 6, sec. 19,
T. 22 S., R. 8 E.
70**Wreford limestone
* Estimated flow Sept. 20, 1947.
** Measured by W. W. Wilson, Oct. 29, 1947.
† Chemical analysis of water given in table 7.

Discharge by Wells

A third means of discharge of water from the ground-water reservoir is that by pumping or artesian flow from wells, which disposes of water not accounted for by the methods of discharge discussed in the preceding pages.

Public Water Supplies

Cottonwood Falls and Strong City are the only cities in Chase County having public water supplies; they are supplied from wells penetrating the alluvium of the Cottonwood River valley.

Cottonwood Falls--The water supply of Cottonwood Falls is obtained from several wells tapping the alluvium of the Cottonwood River valley northwest of the town (secs. 19 and 20, T. 19 S., R. 8 E.). The oldest wells, completed in 1923, known as Mercer Nos. 1, 2, 3, and 4, are combination dug and drilled wells about 30 feet deep and 30 feet apart. They are connected by laterals and pumped by one electrically powered pump. Three drilled wells 50 to 60 feet deep known as Rufner Nos. 1, 2, and 3 were added to the well field between 1925 and 1934 to augment the municipal water supply. In 1940 a 12-inch drilled well 47 feet deep, known as the Gates No. 1, was completed for use, and in 1948 a ninth well, Gates No. 2, was added to the well field (P1. 3).

Water is pumped from the well field to an elevated steel standpipe in the south part of town. The standpipe is 15 feet in diameter and 65 feet in height and has a capacity of 85,000 gallons.

A chemical analysis of the water is given in Table 7. A cross section of the alluvium near this well field is shown in Figure 3.

Strong City--Strong City derives its water supply from one dug well, No. 19-8-2Oaa, 15 feet in diameter and 54 feet deep, completed in 1914 (P1. 3). The well penetrates 6 feet of coarse water-bearing sand and gravel in the lower part of the alluvium. Casing of brick and concrete rests on an iron shoe at the bottom, under and through which water enters the well.

Water is pumped from the well to the adjacent water plant by two 150-gallons-per-minute low-service turbine pumps. It is there treated for hardness. After treatment, the water is pumped by two 150-gallon-per-minute high-service pumps to an elevated 69,000-gallon covered concrete reservoir on a hilltop east of town.

A chemical analysis of the untreated water is given in Table 7.

Industrial Supplies

There are no industrial users of ground water in Chase County. The Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway Company and the Matfield pumping station of the Cities Service Gas Company utilize surface water for their operations.

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Kansas Geological Survey, Chase County Geohydrology
Placed on web March 2001; originally published Aug. 1951.
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