Central Kansas sees water levels rise, Ogallala declines

February 15, 2017 GMT

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Farmers in central Kansas shut down their wells more often as two aquifers saw water levels rise from last year’s timely rains, according to new data.

The Kansas Geological Survey released data on aquifer levels this week, the Hutchinson News (http://bit.ly/2lhBXzc ) reported. The state collects the data annually in early January to monitor the health of the multi-state High Plains Aquifer, which includes three smaller aquifers in Kansas.

The Great Bend Prairie Aquifer rose more than half a foot, while the Equus Beds Aquifer rose an average more than 2 feet. The increases come after a multiyear drought that lowered water levels in 2011 and 2012.

“It’s extremely encouraging to see,” Equus Beds manager Tim Boese said. “We had a tremendously wet year and saw less pumping because of that.”

The Ogallala Aquifer in western Kansas continues to shrink, a trend for the past 70 to 80 years. Water-data manager Brownie Wilson said water levels in that aquifer have fallen an average 40 feet since 1996.

“Overall, the declines in western Kansas were around their historical average, but moving east we saw significant rises in the water table,” Wilson said.

The aquifer’s water levels saw a decrease of an average 1 foot. The dry-up has caused irrigators to pump water out of the ground faster than rainfall can recharge it.

The U.S. Drought Monitor has listed most of western Kansas as an area currently in a moderate to severe drought. Wilson said conditions could change by the time irrigation season starts this spring.


Information from: The Hutchinson (Kan.) News, http://www.hutchnews.com