Dec. 22, 2004 | KU Radio News Line

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Contact: Frank Barthell, University Relations, (785) 864-8869.

Radio News Line:
Survey to conduct annual well water measurement in western, central Kansas

WATER SPECIALISTS FROM THE KANSAS GEOLOGICAL SURVEY, BASED AT THE UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS, WILL MEASURE WATER LEVELS IN MORE THAN 500 WATER WELLS IN SOUTH-CENTRAL AND WESTERN KANSAS DURING THE WEEK OF JANUARY 3.
THE DIVISION OF WATER RESOURCES OF THE KANSAS DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE WILL WORK WITH THE SURVEY IN THE PROJECT BY MEASURING AN ADDITIONAL 7-HUNDRED WELLS. TOGETHER THE SURVEY AND THE DIVISION MEASURE WELLS IN 47 COUNTIES IN SOUTH-CENTRAL AND WESTERN KANSAS.

THE RESULTS ARE USED BY WATER MANAGERS AND AGENCIES TO MONITOR AND INTERPRET GENERAL TRENDS IN GROUNDWATER LEVELS IN THE STATE. LANDOWNERS AND BUSINESSES ALSO USE THE RESULTS IN MAKING WATER-RELATED DECISIONS.

REX BUCHANAN IS AN ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR OF THE KANSAS GEOLOGICAL SURVEY. HE SAYS MOST OF THE WELLS THAT ARE MEASURED ARE USED FOR IRRIGATION AND TAP INTO THE HIGH PLAINS AQUIFER, WHICH INCLUDES THE WELL-KNOWN OGALLALA AQUIFER. THE HIGH PLAINS AQUIFER LIES UNDER MUCH OF WESTERN AND CENTRAL KANSAS.

SURVEY CREWS WILL BEGIN MEASUREMENTS IN NORTHWESTERN AND WEST-CENTRAL KANSAS ON JANUARY 4 AND 5. THEY WILL THEN MOVE SOUTH, WORKING IN THE AREA AROUND SYRACUSE ON JANUARY 6 AND THE AREA AROUND HUGOTON ON JANUARY 7. WEATHER PERMITTING, THEY WILL COMPLETE MEASUREMENTS AROUND DODGE CITY ON JANUARY 8.
BASED ON THE AMOUNT OF RAINFALL LAST SUMMER IN WESTERN KANSAS, BUCHANAN SAYS HE EXPECTS THE DROPS IN WATER LEVELS TO BE LESS THAN IN PREVIOUS YEARS. BUT HE SAYS WATER LEVELS IN THE HIGH PLAINS AQUIFER ARE STILL A CONCERN.
Buchanan: “People didn't have to pump as much when they got more precipitation, so you don't see as great of declines. But it isn't like the issue has gone away.” (7 sec.)

BUCHANAN SAYS THE WINTER MONTHS ARE THE BEST TIME TO MEASURE THESE WELLS.
Buchanan: "Most Januarys, wells are shut off. You can't measure these things when they're running, at least not very easily. So logistically, it's about the only time that we could do it.” (9 sec.)

TO ALERT THE LANDOWNERS AND WELL OPERATORS, THE SURVEY TEAMS TAG EACH WELL ONCE THE WATER LEVELS ARE MEASURED.
Buchanan: "The landowners like to have the things. A lot of them collect them and that way see an objective number of how their wells declined over time.” (7 sec.)

BUCHANAN SAYS MOST OF THE WELLS HAVE BEEN MEASURED FOR MANY YEARS AND LANDOWNERS HAVE BEEN VERY COOPERATIVE.
Buchanan: "Most of the landowners are very accustomed to us being there. For the most part this process is quick. We're into a well; if we've seen it before, we can be in, measure it and be out of there in 15 minutes. It's not a huge intrusion on anybody's time.”( 15 sec.)

BUCHANAN SAYS THE WELL MEASUREMENT DATA ARE CRUCIAL TO HELP KANSAS WATER MANAGERS MAKE WATER POLICY DECISIONS.
Buchanan: "There are all sorts of ways of measuring the problem, but this is really the beginning piece of information that you use to know how bad the situation is. It's the kind of information you have to have to be able to manage that aquifer. Without it, you're flying blind. With it you can at least make informed judgments.” (20 sec.)

MEASUREMENTS OF INDIVIDUAL WELLS WILL BE AVAILABLE IN EARLY FEBRUARY AT THE SURVEY'S WEB SITE, W-W-W DOT K-G-S DOT K-U DOT E-D-U SLASH MAGELLAN SLASH WATERLEVELS SLASH INDEX DOT H-T-M-L.

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