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Dec. 13, 2005
Contact: Brownie Wilson, Geological Survey, (785) 864-2118.

KU's geological survey to measure water wells in western Kansas in January

LAWRENCE --Water specialists from the Kansas Geological Survey, based at the University of Kansas, will measure water levels in more than 500 water wells in western Kansas beginning Jan. 4.

The measurements will be made in cooperation with the Division of Water Resources of the Kansas Department of Agriculture, which measures an additional 700 wells. Together the survey and the division measure wells in 47 counties in the south-central and western parts of the state.

The results are used by water managers and agencies to monitor and interpret general trends in groundwater levels in Kansas. Private landowners and businesses also rely on the information in making water-related decisions. Most of the measured wells are used for irrigation and tap into the High Plains aquifer, which includes the well-known Ogallala aquifer. The High Plains aquifer underlies much of western and central Kansas.

The wells are generally measured in January, after the end of the irrigation season.

" To produce consistent data, we measure the same wells at about the same time each year using the same proven methods," said Brownie Wilson, water-data manager for the survey and one of the staff members measuring wells this year.

Weather permitting, survey crews will begin measurements in northwestern and west-central Kansas on Jan. 4 and 5, then move south, working in the area around Syracuse on Jan. 6 and the area around Hugoton on Jan. 7. They will complete measurements around Liberal on Jan. 8, depending on weather and road conditions.

Last year's measurements showed that average water levels dropped about 0.3 feet in southwestern Kansas, 0.5 feet in northwestern Kansas and held about steady in west-central Kansas from January 2004 to January 2005.

Declines in several previous years were generally greater, in large part because dry weather led to greater pumping for irrigation. From 2000 to 2005, levels dropped 8.9 feet in southwestern Kansas, 4.7 feet in northwestern Kansas and 3.6 feet in west-central Kansas.

High energy prices in the past year made irrigation more expensive and may have affected pumping rates and declines.
Measurements of individual wells made in January 2005 (as well as historical measurement data) are now available at the survey's Web site, http://www.kgs.ku.edu/Magellan/WaterLevels/index.html. Results of measurements made in January 2006 will be available at the same site in early February.

Other information about the state's groundwater is available from the KGS Web site. This includes a new site dedicated to water right information, http://hercules.kgs.ku.edu/geohydro/wimas/index.cfm.

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The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. University Relations is the central public relations office for KU's Lawrence campus.

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