Workers with the Kansas Geological Survey are hitting the road this month to check groundwater levels in central and western Kansas.
Rex Buchanan, with the KGS, says lessening drought conditions may lead to less aquifer depletion then they’ve seen in recent years. He says irrigation is one of the main uses of water from the aquifer.
“The more it rains, the less you have to irrigate. The less it rains, the more you have to irrigate. In dry years, because there’s less water available naturally, people irrigate more,” says Buchanan
State records show that fewer irrigators are pumping more water than they are allowed to use annually.
The Hutchinson News reports that 114 water right holders received a first-offense warning of civil penalties so far this year for over-pumping in 2013. Another 70 irrigators were warned a second, and, for a few, a third time for over-pumping, and issued a $1,000 fine and temporary cutbacks to their annual water use. A fourth offense results in a water right revocation.
Yesterday afternoon Wichita’s Public Works & Utilities Department gave a presentation on the future of water supply in the area. City Council members were in attendance and ideas concerning both conservation, as well as new sources of water, were discussed.
Wichita’s Public Works Director Alan King presented a power point demonstration about what could be done to sure up the city’s water supply until the year 2060. King’s model included five plans that he said take into consideration both effectiveness and the city’s budget.
A new study forecasts that 69 percent of the water in the High Plains Aquifer in Kansas will be depleted within 50 years at current usage rates.
The paper by researchers at Kansas State University was published Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. It focuses on the Ogallala aquifer in western Kansas.
The study estimates that 30 percent of the aquifer was depleted by 2010 and an additional 39 percent is expected to disappear by 2060.
City of Wichita officials announced Friday the drought that threatened the area’s water supply the two past summers and heightened conservation efforts is officially over.
In a release Friday, the city reports Cheney Lake, the city’s primary water source, reached full capacity in the early hours of Thursday from 73.6 percent on July 29. Earlier this year, the lake was as low as 58 percent capacity, causing city officials to encourage conservation efforts through a media campaign, a rebate program and other measures aimed at extending the area’s water supply.