SW Kansas aquifer levels falling at slower rate

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Groundwater levels in southwest Kansas declined at a slower pace in 2013 than in recent years, and water tables rose in south-central Kansas, the Kansas Geological Survey said.

The agency said the increased levels in wells around south-central Kansas could be largely attributed to above-average rainfall that reduced the demand for irrigation during the spring growing season, The Lawrence Journal-World reported (http://bit.ly/1dvVmOn ).

“Obviously, any time you can get your water demands satisfied by Mother Nature, the less you have to pull from aquifers and surface reservoirs,” said Brownie Wilson, water data manager for KGS.

Most of the 1,400 wells surveyed earlier this year lie within one of the state’s five Groundwater Management Districts.

The KGS measures the levels annually to help landowners and other water users manage groundwater resources, which are the primary source of water for cities, industries and agriculture across Kansas. The water levels have dropped over the past five years because of an extended drought.

Preliminary information shows that water tables in drought-stricken southwestern Kansas, dropped 2.31 feet last year. During each of the three previous years, water levels fell by more than 3 feet. And since 1996, they have fallen nearly 35 feet, KGS said. Much of that area received less than half the normal precipitation in 2013 and some areas received less than 25 percent, the agency said.

In west-central Kansas, where much of the area has already been closed off to large-scale irrigation because of dramatic declines in previous years, water tables fell by 0.79 feet last year. In northwest Kansas, water tables fell on average, 0.76 feet last year, which is less than the 1.39 feet recorded after 2012.

After two consecutive years of declines in west-central Kansas, water tables rose an average of more than half a foot.

In parts of Sedgwick, McPherson, Harvey and Reno counties in south-central Kansas, levels rose more than 2.5 feet after declining more than 3 feet in 2011, and 1.64 feet in 2012.


Information from: Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World, http://www.ljworld.com

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