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Kansas City Area Ground Water

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Purpose and scope of the investigation

The investigation upon which this report is based was begun in July 1943 as part of a program of ground-water investigations in Kansas by the United States Geological Survey and the State Geological Survey of Kansas in cooperation with the Division of Sanitation of the Kansas State Board of Health and the Division of Water Resources of the Kansas State Board of Agriculture. Similar investigations are being conducted in several other areas in Kansas.

For many years there has been a steady increase in the use of ground water for industrial purposes in Kansas City, Kansas. During the war this increase was greatly accelerated by the needs of military and naval establishments and by the need for increased production from many old industrial plants and from many large new war plants. The increasing development of water for industrial use has made it necessary that a better understanding of the hydrology of this area be acquired.

Location and extent of the area

This report considers chiefly the industrial areas in the Missouri and Kansas River Valleys in Kansas City, Kansas, and the Kansas River Valley extending from Kansas City to Bonner Springs, Kansas. Kansas River joins Missouri River in Kansas City, Kansas. Most of the area considered in the report is within Wyandotte County, Kansas, but small areas are in Johnson County, Kansas, and Jackson and Platte Counties, Missouri. The part of the Missouri River Valley herein considered is known as the Fairfax Industrial District and comprises about 4 square miles. The Kansas River Valley area in Kansas City, Kansas, includes five industrial districts which are, beginning at the mouth of the river, the Woodswether, Central, Rosedale, Armourdale, and Argentine Districts. The five districts have a combined area of about 7 square miles. The location of the area is shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1--Area covered by this report and areas in Kansas for which cooperative ground-water reports have been published or are in preparation.

Map of Kansas showing area in far eastern Wyandotte County covered by this report.

Previous investigations

The more important papers that have a bearing on the geology and ground-water resources of the Kansas City, Kansas, area are cited below. Many of the investigations in this area have been concerned with the stratigraphy of the Pennsylvanian rocks. Earlier investigations on the stratigraphy of the Pennsylvanian rocks of Kansas are discussed by Moore (1935) who gives an excellent bibliography for each Pennsylvanian formation. In 1902, Bailey prepared a special report on mineral waters in Kansas which includes the analyses of some waters from the bedrock formation in the Kansas City area. In 1917, McCourt and others of the Missouri Bureau of Geology and Mines published a report on the geology of Jackson County, Missouri, which is adjacent to Kansas City, Kansas. This report includes a short chapter on underground water. Reports by Newell (1935) and by Jewett and Newell (1935) on the geology of Johnson, Miami, and Wyandotte Counties were also published. In 1940, Moore prepared a generalized report on the ground-water resources of Kansas, which includes references to the rocks cropping out in the Kansas City area.

A report (Meinzer and Wenzel, 1946, p. 160) on water levels and artesian pressures in the United States in 1943 contains a chapter on the observation-well program in Wyandotte County. Additional reports of this series will be published annually. A report on the availability of ground-water supplies for national defense industries in Kansas discusses briefly the availability of ground-water supplies in the Kansas and Missouri River Valleys. (Lohman and others, 1942, pp. 29-32.)

Methods of Investigations

The investigation upon which this report is based was begun in the summer of 1943 when I spent about 2 months in the area. Well owners and drillers were interviewed regarding the nature and thickness of the water-bearing formations penetrated by the wells and all available logs were collected. Information regarding the yields of wells, water levels in wells, temperature of the water, chemical character of the water, and the use of ground water was obtained.

Samples of water were collected from 23 wells and 51 test holes and were analyzed by H. A. Stoltenberg, chemist, in the Water and Sewage Laboratory of the Kansas State Board of Health at Lawrence. In addition an analysis of water from the public supply at Bonner Springs was supplied by the Kansas State Board of Health, making a total of 75 analyses for the area. The determinations of free carbon dioxide and pH of the water were made by Mr. Stoltenberg at the well site with portable apparatus.

During the summer of 1944, 59 test holes (Pl. 1) were drilled in the area by O. S. Fent and Milford Klingaman, using the portable hydraulic-rotary rig owned by the State Geological Survey of Kansas. Samples of drill cuttings were collected and studied in the field by Mr. Fent and were later examined in the office by me. Additional logs were made available by the Layne-Western Company; by the Corps of Engineers, U. S. Army; and by the chief engineers of some of the industrial plants.

Altitudes of the measuring points were established at some of the wells and of the land surface, at each of the test holes put down by the drilling rig. The levels were run from benchmarks of the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey by Charles K. Bayne and Ray Miles, using a plane table and telescopic alidade.

Field data were compiled on topographic maps of the U. S. Geological Survey and the base map for Plate 1 was prepared from these maps.


I am indebted to the many residents of the . area who kindly supplied information regarding ground-water conditions. Acknowledgment is given for the fine cooperation of all the industrial-plant engineers who made available much information regarding the wells of their respective plants. Harry Higgins, Industrial Engineer for the Union Pacific Railroad Company, supplied much information regarding the Fairfax Industrial District and made available many well logs.

Acknowledgment is given to the Corps of Engineers, U. S. Army, for permitting me to participate in several pumping tests conducted by the Corps of Engineers in the Fairfax Industrial District. Data collected during the pumping tests and logs of test holes were made available. I spent several days in the field and office with W. A. Wall and R. A. Sackewitz in connection with the pumping tests.

Many wells and test holes have been drilled in the Missouri and Kansas River Valleys in the Kansas City area by the Layne-Western Company. Special acknowledgment is given to R. O. Joslyn and L. H. Heckman, President and Vice-President, respectively, for making available well records collected by their company over a period of many years of operation in this area. P. S. Judy, president of Air-Made Well Company, supplied much information regarding ground-water conditions in the Kansas City area and gave permission to use his drainage well as an observation well (No. 138).

Clifton Roberts, Vice-President of the Kansas City, Kansas, Chamber of Commerce, supplied information concerning industries. J. M. Jewett of the State Geological Survey of Kansas supplied much information regarding the geology and ground-water resources of the area in advance of the field work and generously gave much help and advice during the course of the investigation.

The manuscript for this report has been critically reviewed by several members of the Federal Geological Survey; by R. C. Moore, Director of Research, and J. C. Frye, Executive Director of the State Geological Survey of Kansas; by George S. Knapp, Chief Engineer of the Division of Water. Resources, Kansas State Board of Agriculture; and by Paul D. Haney, Director, and Ogden S. Jones, Geologist, of the Division of Sanitation, Kansas State Board of Health. The manuscript was edited by Betty Hagerman and the illustrations were drafted in final form under the supervision of Eileen Martin and Robyn Ashby Addis.

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Kansas Geological Survey, Geohydrology
Placed on web Oct. 4, 2016; originally published February 1948.
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