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Johnson County Geohydrology

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Groundwater Resources, continued

Utilization of Groundwater

Public Supplies

Public water supplies for DeSoto, Olathe, and Rural Water District No. 1 are obtained from wells in Johnson County. Two additional public water supplies, Johnson County Water District No. 1 and Rural Water District No. 3, obtain groundwater from wells in the Kansas River valley in adjacent Wyandotte County, Kans. The village of Sunflower purchases ground water from the Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant.

Data on the public water supplies were obtained from water superintendents, the Kansas State Department of Health, and the U.S. Public Health Service 1963 inventory of municipal water facilities (U.S. Public Health Service, 1964). Representative water analyses are given in table 4.


The water supply of DeSoto is obtained from two drilled wells, each 46 feet deep, in the Kansas River valley. The wells are each reported to have a capacity of 200 gpm and are equipped with electrically powered turbine pumps. An average of 160,000 gpd is pumped from the well field. The raw water is hard and high in iron and manganese content. Treatment consists of removal of iron and manganese, softening, filtering, and chlorination. There are 200,000 gallons of ground-level storage and 50,000 gallons of elevated storage provided for the treated water.


Olathe obtains water from two surface reservoirs and from four wells. The older of the reservoirs, called Olathe Lake, is a 77-acre lake southwest of the city that impounds about 720 acre-feet of water. New Olathe Lake, west of the city, is a 190-acre lake that impounds 3,380 acre-feet of water.

The well field consists of four wells in the Kansas River valley alluvium near the mouth of Cedar Creek. Each well is 16 inches in diameter; they range from 56 to 66 feet in depth. Well yields range from 500 to 1,000 gpm. Water is pumped from the well field to a 4-mgd (million gallons per day) -capacity treatment plant on the Cedar Creek bluff above the well field. At the treatment plant the water is chlorinated, softened, and dissolved iron is removed prior to pumping the water into Olathe.

Rural Water District No. 1

Rural Water District No. 1 serves about 325 people between Cedar Creek and Mill Creek, chiefly along and near Kansas Highway 10. Originally the district water supply was obtained from one drilled well (12-22E-26add) equipped with a 60-gpm-capacity turbine pump in the Kansas River valley near the mouth of Cedar Creek. The water was chlorinated and treated to reduce the amount of iron and manganese. In May 1967 the district began purchasing softened water from the city of Olathe at its Cedar Creek treatment plant. Monthly purchases in 1967 ranged from 574,000 to 895,000 gallons.

Rural Water District No. 3

Rural Water District No. 3 serves about 900 persons in an area between Olathe and Bonner Springs, chiefly along Mill Creek and Clear Creek drainages. Water for the district is purchased from the city of Bonner Springs, Kans. The Bonner Springs water supply is obtained from wells in the Kansas River valley alluvium on the north side of the Kansas River in Wyandotte County. The water is chlorinated and fluoridated before being distributed. In 1967 the water district purchased and distributed 21.6 million gallons of water.


Sunflower, a community along Kansas Highway 10 just north of the Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant, has a population of about 1,200 persons and is served with groundwater purchased from the Sunflower plant.

Johnson County Water District No. 1

Johnson County Water District No. 1 serves nearly all the metropolitan area of northeastern Johnson County. The water district serves about 140,000 persons, including 1,000 in Wyandotte County. The city of Lenexa purchases about 11 million gallons of water per month from the district. The water district, in 1967, had an average daily use of about 13 mgd and a maximum daily use of 25 mgd. About 5.5 million gallons of groundwater is pumped daily and the remainder of the water supply is obtained from the Kansas River. The groundwater is obtained from a series of 21 wells that are 65 to 70 feet deep. The wells are in the Kansas River valley alluvium northeast of Quivira Lake near Morris in Wyandotte County. The water obtained from the 21 wells ranges in hardness from 450 to 600 mg/l. The water is treated to remove iron and manganese, softened, fluoridated, filtered, and chlorinated before being distributed.

Other Public Water Supplies

Water is purchased from the Kansas City, Mo., municipal water system by the J.C. Nichols Water Co. and the Westport Annex Water Co. These companies serve that part of metropolitan northeast Johnson County not served by Johnson County Water District No. 1.

The towns of Edgerton, Gardner, and Spring Hill utilize surface water for their municipal water systems. Edgerton obtains water from Santa Fe Lake, a small reservoir having a capacity of about 120 acre-feet. Prior to 1960 Edgerton utilized six low-yielding wells, each about 80 feet deep, in sec. 30, T. 14 S., R. 22 E., north of town. The wells yielded about 5 gpm each.

Gardner obtains water from Gardner Lake 2 miles north of town. This lake is a 131-acre impoundment having a capacity of about 2,350 acre-feet of water. Gardner formerly used one dug and five drilled wells, ranging from 35 to 65 feet in depth, about 3 1/2 miles northwest of town. The wells had capacities of about 5 gpm each and were abandoned in 1957 when the surface-water supply was developed. The Edgerton and Gardner wells each obtained water from the Ireland Sandstone Member of the Lawrence Formation.

Industrial Supplies

The Hercules Powder Co., operator of the Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant (Sunflower Ordnance Works), is the only industrial user that has developed a large groundwater supply in Johnson County. According to Mr. Hugh Jackson, utilities supervisor for Hercules, about 7 mgd was pumped during the early 1940's for use at the ordnance plant from a well field in the Kansas River valley partly in Johnson County and partly in adjacent Leavenworth County west of DeSoto. In addition about 50 mgd was pumped from the Kansas River. In 1967 six wells south of the Kansas River in Johnson County and six wells north of the Kansas River in Leavenworth County pumped 529.8 million gallons or 1,621 acre-feet of water. Hercules furnishes about 3 million gallons per month to the U.S. Industrial Chemical Co., located on the ordnance property, chiefly for the production of acid. The location of the well field is shown on plate 1 and pertinent data on the individual wells are given in table 8 and table 10.

Irrigation Supplies

According to the Division of Water Resources of the Kansas State Board of Agriculture (written commun., Jan. 1, 1971), water rights have been perfected or are in the process of being perfected to irrigate 210.6 acres of land with groundwater and 388 acres of band with surface water. All the band irrigated with groundwater is in the Kansas River valley in the vicinity of Cedar and Wilder. An additional 70 acres or more is irrigated by groundwater in the Kansas River valley by farmers who are not yet perfecting water rights. Irrigation water is most commonly distributed by sprinkler systems, and the wells are pumped at rates of 250 to 600 gpm. There is no groundwater irrigation outside the Kansas River valley. Surface water for irrigation is obtained from Kill Creek, Little Bull Creek, Blue River, and Indian Creek.

The principal crops irrigated in the Kansas River valley are field corn, sweet corn, sweet potatoes, milo, watermelons, pumpkins, cantaloupes, turnips, and radishes. Much of the fruit and vegetable crop is sold in the metropolitan Kansas City market.

Chemical analyses indicate that groundwater from wells in the Kansas River valley alluvium is satisfactory for crops most commonly irrigated. The water generally had a low sodium (alkali) hazard and a medium or high salinity hazard. The soils irrigated generally are characterized by good drainage. For a more thorough discussion of the suitability of water for irrigation, the interested reader is referred to Agriculture Handbook No. 60 (U.S. Salinity Laboratory Staff, 1954).

Domestic and Stock Supplies

Several hundred domestic and stock water supplies are obtained from wells and springs in Johnson County. Exclusive of water from public-water-supply facilities, about 225,000 gpd was obtained from wells and springs in 1967. With the increasing urbanization of the county and the growth of public water supplies, the amount of groundwater obtained from individually owned wells and springs is declining in relation to total use. The total use of ground water obtained from individual domestic and stock supplies in 1967 was estimated to be 82 million gallons or 252 acre-feet.


The use of ground water for public, irrigation, and industrial water supplies will increase and will be obtained chiefly from wells in the Kansas River valley alluvium. Groundwater supplies for domestic and stock use will continue to be developed from the other Pleistocene aquifers and from the Pennsylvanian aquifers to serve the suburban and rural users not served by public water supplies.

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Kansas Geological Survey, Johnson County Geohydrology
Web version April 2002. Original publication date Dec. 1971.
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