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Scientific Investigations Report 2004–5204

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Characterization and Simulation of Flow in the Lower Arkansas River Alluvial Aquifer, South-Central Kansas

By Xiaodong Jian, Lanna J. Combs, and Cristi V. Hansen

Prepared in cooperation with the
Kansas Department of Agriculture,
Division of Water Resources


Large parts of the lower Arkansas, Ninnescah, and Walnut River Basins in south-central Kansas—an area that includes Wichita, the largest city in Kansas—are experiencing rapid population growth and, consequently, increasing demands on surface- and ground-water resources in addition to agricultural irrigation in the area. The quantity and quality of water available in the lower Arkansas, Ninnescah, and Walnut River Basins in Butler, Cowley, Sedgwick, and Sumner Counties are crucial as population and water use continue to increase in the region.

A steady-state model was constructed to simulate flow in the Arkansas River alluvial aquifer between Wichita and Arkansas City. Calibration was achieved using March 2001 measured water levels and streamflow gain using long-term (1940–2001) streamflow records. Average recharge about 5 inches per year; average aquifer hydraulic conductivity was about 500 feet per day; well pumpage (average of reported 1998–2001 use) was 56 cubic feet per second; and net flow from the alluvial aquifer to streams in the modeled area was computed by hydrograph separation to be 157 cubic feet per second.

Nine hypothetical simulations were conducted with ground-water pumpage varying from zero to double authorized pumpage (206 cubic feet per second). Net remaining aquifer thickness declined for the largest simulated pumpage increases in comparison to 1998–2001 average pumping, as did flow from the aquifer to the Arkansas River. Simulated aquifer thickness decreases were more pronounced in areas where pumpage is currently (2004) greatest.


Jian, Xiaodong, Combs, L.J., and Hansen, C.V., 2004, Characterization and simulation of flow in the Lower Arkansas River alluvial aquifer, south-central Kansas: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific-Investigations Report 2004–5204, 82 p.


A limited number of printed copies of the full report are available free from:

U.S. Geological Survey
4821 Quail Crest Place
Lawrence, KS 66049
Phone: 785-842-9909

and for a nominal charge from:

U.S. Geological Survey
Information Services
P.O. Box 25286
Federal Center
Denver, CO 80225

NOTE: When ordering the report, please supply the report title and number, your name, and your mailing address. Thank you.

For additional information about USGS studies about the Lower Arkansas River alluvial aquifer in Kansas contact:

Xiaodong Jian
U.S. Geological Survey
4821 Quail Crest Place
Lawrence, KS 66049-3839
Telephone: (785) 832-3534
Fax: (785) 832-3500

Go to the USGS-Kansas Home Page

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