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Scientific Investigations Report 2014–5185

Prepared in cooperation with the City of Wichita, Kansas

Status of Groundwater Levels and Storage Volume in the Equus Beds Aquifer near Wichita, Kansas, 2012 to 2014

By Cristi V. Hansen, Joshua A. Whisnant, and Jennifer L. Lanning-Rush

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (5 MB)Abstract

Development of the Wichita well field in the Equus Beds aquifer in southwest Harvey County and northwest Sedgwick County began in the 1940s to supply water to the city of Wichita. The decline of water levels in the Equus Beds aquifer was noted soon after the development of the Wichita well field began. Development of irrigation wells began in the 1960s. City and agricultural withdrawals led to substantial water-level declines. Water-level declines likely enhanced movement of brines from past oil and gas activities near Burrton, Kansas, as well as natural saline water from the Arkansas River into the Wichita well field area. Large chloride concentrations may limit use, or require the treatment of water from the well field for irrigation or public supply. In 1993, the city of Wichita adopted the Integrated Local Water Supply Program to ensure an adequate water supply for the city through 2050 and manage effectively the part of the Equus Beds aquifer Wichita uses. The Integrated Local Water Supply Program uses several strategies to do this, including the Equus Beds Aquifer Storage and Recovery project. The purpose of the Aquifer Storage and Recovery project is to store water in the aquifer for later recovery, and help protect the aquifer from encroachment of a known oil-field-brine plume near Burrton and saline water from the Arkansas River. Since 1940, the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the city of Wichita, has monitored changes in the Equus Beds aquifer as part of Wichita’s effort to manage this resource effectively.

Average water-level changes since predevelopment (before substantial pumpage began in the area) for winter 2012, summer 2012, winter 2013, and winter 2014 generally indicate greater declines in the central part of the study area than in either the basin storage or entire study area. In contrast, average water-level rises since 1993 for winter 2012, summer 2012, winter 2013, and winter 2014 were greater for the central part of the study area than for either the basin storage area or entire study area. This indicates the central part of the study area had more post-1993 water-level recovery than did the rest of the study area. In the central part of the study area, city water use decreased by about 40 percent, and irrigation water use increased by about 3 percent compared to pre-1993 peaks in 1992 and 1991, respectively, whereas irrigation water use outside the central part of the study area increased by about 24 percent from the pre-1993 peak in 1991. Part of the larger increase in irrigation pumpage probably was a result of drought-term and multiyear flex account permits, which were estimated to account for about 8 and 4 percent of irrigation pumpage in the study area in 2011 and 2012.

There was a larger percentage storage-volume increase since 1993 in the central part of the study area than in either the basin storage area or the entire study area. Storage-volume in the central part of the study area during winter 2012, summer 2013, winter 2013, and winter 2014 recovered about 46,300 acre-feet or more compared to the storage volume in 1993. In summer 2012 and winter 2013, the storage-volume increase since 1993 was larger in the central part of the study area than in the entire study area, indicating the storage-volume increases in the central part of the study area offset decreases in storage volume in the rest of the study area. The larger increase in storage volume in the central part of the study area than in the rest of the study area probably was because of the Integrated Local Water Supply Program strategy that reduced city pumpage from the Equus Beds aquifer by about 40 percent. The current (winter 2014) storage volumes in the entire study area and the central part of the study area are about 94 and 96 percent of their respective predevelopment storage volumes or about 3,067,000 and 962,000 acre-feet, respectively.

First posted October 29, 2014

For additional information contact:
Director, Kansas Water Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey
4821 Quail Crest Place
Lawrence, KS 66049
http://ks.water.usgs.gov

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Suggested citation:

Hansen, C.V., Whisnant, J.A., and Lanning-Rush, J.L., 2014, Status of groundwater levels and storage volume in the Equus Beds aquifer near Wichita, Kansas, 2012 to 2014: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2014–5185, 39 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/sir20145185.

ISSN 2328-0328 (online)



Contents

Acknowledgments

Abstract

Introduction

Water-level Altitude Maps

Water-Level and Storage-Volume Changes in the Equus Beds Aquifer

Summary

References Cited

Appendix


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