Kansas survey to study dropping groundwater levels

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Geological Survey and state agriculture officials are planning to start work early next month to determine how much water is being lost in western Kansas.

The effort comes as annual data has shown decreases in groundwater levels in the High Plans aquifer during the past 60 years, according to a statement from the University of Kansas, where the Geological Survey is based. The aquifer is the main water source for irrigation, cities and industries in western and central Kansas.

The Geological Survey will measure groundwater levels in 569 wells in 15 western Kansas counties. The measurements will be taken Jan 2 through Jan. 6.

Combined with wells measurements taken by the Kansas Department of Agriculture’s Division of Water Resources, 1,415 wells in 48 western and central Kansas counties are expected to be measured, The Lawrence Journal-World reported.

Similar measurements taken in January 2013 showed groundwater levels rose in south-central Kansas while levels in western Kansas continued to decline, although less sharply than in the previous year. Drought and increased irrigation are blamed for the decline.

“In 2014, the growing season in March to May started off very dry with June being extremely wet and, in places, so were July and August,” Brownie Wilson, KGS water-data manager, said in the news release. “It wasn’t a drought-buster by any means, but the quantity and timeliness of the precipitation was probably good enough to reduce groundwater declines this year in comparison to recent years.”

Most of western Kansas continues to be classified as being in moderate to severe drought, with counties along the Kansas-Oklahoma border considered in extreme drought, Wilson said.



Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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