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Kansas Geological Survey, Open-file Report 2022-6

Kansas River Alluvial Aquifer Index Well Program: June 2020 to May 2022 Report

by J. J. Butler, Jr., E. C. Reboulet, S. Knobbe, G. C. Bohling, D. O. Whittemore, J. Voss, and B. B. Wilson

Kansas Geological Survey, University of Kansas

KGS Open File Report 2022-6
July 11, 2022

Executive summary

The Kansas River alluvial aquifer index well program is directed at developing a better understanding of the aquifer and its relationship to flow in the Kansas River. Projections indicate that the Kansas River corridor from Junction City to Kansas City will continue to be a major area of population and economic expansion in the coming decades and that groundwater will help fuel that expansion. Thus, we need to be able to reliably assess how water levels in the aquifer and the Kansas River will respond to increased groundwater pumping. The Kansas Legislature charged the Kansas Geological Survey (KGS) with improving our knowledge of the aquifer and its interactions with the Kansas River. A major focus of that effort has been on the establishment of a network of monitoring ("index") wells in the Kansas River alluvial aquifer (KRAA) that is patterned after the KGS index well network in the High Plains aquifer. A second major focus has been on improving understanding of KRAA hydrostratigraphy (the distribution of sediment types within the aquifer), a critical task for the modeling phase to follow this work. The Kansas River alluvial aquifer program is supported by the Kansas Water Office and has benefited from assistance from personnel of the Kansas Department of Agriculture, Division of Water Resources, and past funding support by the U.S. Geological Survey's National Groundwater Monitoring Network program.

The project began with the installation of a monitoring well near the Lawrence Airport in late summer 2017. The network now consists of 16 wells from west of Manhattan to just north of Lake Quivira in the Kansas City metropolitan area. Each well is equipped with a transducer for continuous monitoring of water levels, and the transducers are connected to telemetry equipment to allow real-time (hourly) viewing of well water levels on the KGS website ( The vision of the program is that these wells will be monitored for the long term. The ultimate objective is to gather sufficient information through water-level monitoring and additional activities so that a groundwater model of the aquifer and its relationship to the Kansas River can be constructed and then improved over time.

This report provides a concise description of conditions as of May 2022. The report consists of a description of the five wells installed since the last program report (June 2020), an initial interpretation of the 14 well hydrographs that had been acquired as of May 2022, a discussion of the major efforts directed at developing a better understanding of site hydrostratigraphy, and a summary of additional activities that have been performed at the well sites since the last program report.

The major accomplishments of the KRAA index well program to date are as follows:

  1. The network has been built from scratch and now consists of 16 wells spanning the length of the Kansas River corridor;
  2. Telemetered data from all 16 wells are served on the KGS website;
  3. We have initially analyzed hydrographs from 14 of the 16 wells and have begun to develop an understanding of the major mechanisms that produce water-level changes at each well and the relationship between the KRAA and the Kansas River and its tributaries. The river appears to be a gaining stream over most of its extent;
  4. We completed a hydrostratigraphic analysis of the KRAA using 4,945 drillers' logs from the WWC-5 database;
  5. We performed direct-push electrical conductivity logging to enhance understanding of KRAA hydrostratigraphy; logs were obtained at all 16 well sites and then an additional 23 logs were obtained as part of five transects in the KRAA;
  6. We completed 68.35 miles of towed transient electromagnetic (tTEM) surveying in the KRAA to further enhance understanding of KRAA hydrostratigraphy;
  7. We completed the analysis of groundwater samples from all 16 wells to serve as a benchmark for KRAA groundwater chemistry.

In summary, all major project activities have been completed. The focus of KGS activities in the KRAA will now shift to development of a groundwater model of the aquifer, network maintenance, and continued interpretation of well hydrographs, water chemistry, and aquifer hydrostratigraphy in support of modeling activities.

The complete report is available as a PDF file.

Kansas Geological Survey
Placed online July 12, 2022
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