Thursday, April 13, Brownie Wilson shared a presentation with 60 area farmers and industry professionals, highlighting the latest research on the current state of the Ogallala Aquifer and steps that can be taken to extend the life of the water locally.
Wilson, a technician for at the Kansas Geological Survey at the University of Kansas, is member of a team that travels western Kansas each year measuring the water level in approximately 1,400 monitored wells each winter.
Carrying 500-foot long steel measuring tapes that are coated in blue chalk before they are extended down the well casings, technicians check the wells in the non-pumping season annually, determining how the water levels have changed from one year to the next.
Generally, the depth to water in western Kansas is continuing to increase.
“I don’t know what we’re going to do in a few years,” Wilson said, “the tapes only go down to 500 feet.”
Water levels have declined significantly since 1996, with declines ranging from 20-30 feet to over 100 feet in certain areas. The totals vary widely across the various regions of the aquifer.
Another set of wells, known as observation wells, dot western Kansas, too, providing electronic hourly feedback on the water levels.
Utilizing this data and more, the Kansas Geological Survey produces information that helps policy makers, farmers, and the public make sense of the complex puzzle that is Kansas water.
The western half of the state is mostly reliant on groundwater, while the eastern side almost exclusively depends on surface water for its needs.
There are variations in the sources of water, the supply available, the saturated thickness of aquifer where it exists. Average rainfall across the state varies from less than 18 inches annually in southwest Kansas to more than 45 inches in the southeastern corner of the state.
For these reasons and many more, Wilson reminded those attending that “There is no one size fits all, even within state water law.”
While continued water decline is frequently stated as an unavoidable future, the Kansas Geological Survey’s research indicates that a reduction in the use of groundwater could help sustain and extend the life of the aquifer.
From the index wells spread throughout the region, research indicates that water levels recover some during the non-pumping season.
A recent study developed average numbers to highlight the percentage of reduction needed across the various Groundwater Management Districts. The resulting number is an average of the amount of reduction of use of ground water needed to help the aquifer recharge.
“The map is informative in a big picture sense,” said Wilson, “but can be a little misleading for some areas when shown without context. The prime aquifer area in GMD1 in Wallace County reduction number is over 50%. The same is especially true for SW Kansas- they have many areas where the reduction percentages is well above 22%, but the shallow wells in and along the Ark River Valley tend to skew things at the GMD scale.”
Work is being done in several communities to help address water usage
to slow the decline and work towards manageable levels of groundwater use, including the development of Local Enhanced Management Areas (LEMAs) and Water Conservation Areas. These programs are designed by local producers to deliver local results, which is critical to their success.
“Groundwater moves very slowly – taking roughly 20 to 30 years to move a mile, on the fast side. It’s not going to flow out from under people, at least within their lifetime,” said Wilson. “It will be there for years to come unless it is pumped out locally. The benefits of any voluntary conservation efforts will also stay local.”
An active LEMA in Wichita County has demonstrated that markedly less water is being used as a result of local policies, which were instituted in 2017 through a water conservation area.
A new LEMA was recently approved for Greeley, Wallace, Lane, and Scott Counties, which retroactively took effect on January 1, 2023.
Groundwater Management District 1 manager Katie Durham says “We’ve been encouraged by the what we have seen with the Wichita County LEMA. The annual rate of decline has fallen from one half a foot annually to one tenth of a foot after the reduction in use.”
Wilson and the Kansas Geological Survey have run a number of analyses on the Wichita County numbers, each confirming that the reduction in use is making a difference in the aquifer.
“The data is pretty remarkable,” said Durham. “There has been a change in mindset and a change in use. We are tangibly saving water in Wichita County. We’re hopeful that the four-county LEMA will see some progress in extending the life of the aquifer and protecting our local economies, which is our number one goal.”
Groundwater Management District 1, includes the counties of Greeley, Lane, Scott, Wallace, and Wichita. Durham said their office is currently focused on outreach and will be in each of the communities this week to help further explain the LEMA to area producers.
At Thursday’s meeting, Wilson also presented information regarding groundwater mineralization on the in the Upper Arkansas River Corridor, noting the high salinity as well as areas of sulfate and uranium concentration in certain areas in Kearny and Finney counties.
The catered lunch meeting, hosted by the Greeley, Hamilton, and Wichita County Conservation Districts, was held at the Greeley County 4-H Building in Tribune.
Monday, May 22, 2023, Greeley County Courthouse: Regular Session Present: Supervisors Monty Moritz (entered at 5:05 pm), Kirby Kleymann, Justin Phillips, Scott Steele, Steve Mangan; Gina Bond, Utility Administrator (entered at 5:20pm); County Clerk Jerri Young, and County Treasurer... [More]
Local veterans and VFW Auxiliary members hosted a Memorial Day Ceremony at the Greeley County Cemetery on Monday, May 29. From left to right are Joyce Huddleston, Pamela Forbes, Hudson Louderbaugh, Daryl Miller, and Luther Keith.
Make plans to be in town this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday for the June Jaunt. Enjoy any and all of the many activities being hosted by a number of local organizations, businesses, and groups. All times listed are in the Mountain Time zone. On Friday, June 2, and Saturday,... [More]
Saturday, May 20, 2023, City Hall: Adjourned Session Present: Kirby Kleymann, Monty Moritz, Justin Phillips, Steve Mangan, and Scott Steele, Supervisors; Gina Bond, Utility Administrator, were present. The meeting was called to order at 8:00 a.m. Executive Session:... [More]
This May, two Greeley County Health Services employees graduated with healthcare-related degrees, while working full-time and receiving scholarship support from the hospital. Jordan Trujillo graduated from Seward County Community College in the Medical Laboratory Technologist... [More]
Greeley County Seniors graduated in a commencement ceremony held Saturday, May 13, 2023 in the Greeley County Schools gymnasium. After an opening invocation by Titus Sherer, Trinity Albers and Karlyn Woelk, and Josh Houston, Greeley County Schools 6-12th grade principal,... [More]
Greeley County Elementary School students presented their spring concert on Tuesday, May 3 in the Greeley County High School Gymnasium for family and friends. The event was also live-streamed for those who could not attend in person. The fifth-grade band, under the direction... [More]
The Greeley County High School Track team traveled to Leoti on Monday, April 24, to take part in the Wichita County Invitational alongside Wichita County High School, Scott Community High School, Dighton High School, Hoxie High School, and Lakin High School. rn Athletes placing... [More]
Those who access the paper through our website gcrnews.com have likely noticed a new look and layout to the space. A couple of changes will soon accompany this redesign. 1. We will occasionally post additional photos to the website. There is a limited amount of... [More]
It seems the session has hit cruise control. Everyone is settled into their committees, the routine seems to be flowing, etc. Committees have been back at work for a couple of weeks, reviewing the work of the Senate. Unfortunately, for the Water Committee, the Senate... [More]
The window on one of the team vans read “One town. One team. One dream.” This weekend at the KHSHAA 1A-Division II Championship at Barton County Community College in Great Bend, those words held exceptional meaning as a sea of red cheered on the Jackrabbits... [More]
By: U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) Originally printed in the Topeka Capital-Journal This Congress, I will continue serving veterans as the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. Traveling across our state, I have had the opportunity to hear... [More]
Two Greeley County sophomores traveled to Wichita last Friday and Saturday to take part in the KSHSAA State Championship Track meet held at Wichita State University. Jadyn Mangan qualified to compete in the long jump. Lincoln Shafer qualified to compete in the 300 hurdles. ... [More]
Lincoln Shafer and Kasen Felty traveled to Emporia for the 1A State Golf Tournament played on Monday and Tuesday, May 22nd and 23rd. The weather was excellent for the practice round and for the tournament itself. This was the first time that 1A was able to complete both days... [More]
Lincoln Shafer and Jadyn Mangan competed at the State Track Meet held in Wichita Friday and Saturday, May 26 and 27.
Friday, May 19, Greeley County Schools hosted the 1A Regional Track meet for 1A Schools in the western third of the state. Twenty-nine schools took part in the day’s event, which began at 1 p.m. MT. Greeley County athletes placing in the top 10 in their respective... [More]
The Greeley County High School Golf team hosted one of the four regional tournaments on Monday, May 15. It was a cold and windy day, but all of the teams still posted some of their best scores of the season. We had a stacked regional, featuring five of the top 10 teams... [More]
The Greeley County High School track athletes took part in the Northwest Kansas League meet on Friday, May 12. The meet had been scheduled for Thursday, May 11, but was moved to Friday due to predicted storms and rainy weather. Reagan Crotinger placed eighth in the 1600-meter... [More]
The Greeley County High School Golf Team played three varsity tournaments and one JV tournament this past week. On Tuesday, May 2, the varsity played at Oakley. Aaron Vestal played up on varsity and led the team in scoring with a 46-43-89 and placed 13th overall at the... [More]
Junior High students participating in track at Greeley County Schools traveled to Quinter last Friday, April 28, to take part in Junior High Invitational there. Sixteen schools took part in the meet. Girls Junior High girls placing in the top ten in their respective... [More]
A life well lived It is with deep sorrow that we announce the passing of Leroy Sons, a beloved husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, brother, and friend. Leroy was born on January 8, 1933, in Sullivan, Missouri, and passed away on April 25, 2023, at the age of 90... [More]
John S. Barker, 96, died May 17, 2023, at Marjorie’s Home in Kingman. He was born July 16, 1926, at Pratt the son of Cecil E. and Olive Cook Barker. A resident of Kingman County most of his life, he was a farmer and stockman. John was a member of the United Methodist... [More]
Dale Eugene Appl, age 90, passed away on April 29, 2023, at his home in Leoti. He was born on May 3, 1932, to Martinus and Violet (Elder) Appl in Leoti. He was a farmer and rancher as well as a past member of the Leoti Lions Club and the Antique Car Club. He loved farming as... [More]
Danny “Dan” Neil Donovan, age 75, passed away on April 15, 2023, at the Adara Living Nursing Home in Broomfield, Colorado. He was born to Claude Oren & Beulah Rebecca Hagstrom Donovan in Syracuse, Kansas on October 2, 1947. He was a graduate of Greeley... [More]
Randy Harris, age 67, passed away on Sunday, March 12, 2023, at the University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora, Colorado. He was born on August 20, 1955, in Tribune to Gail and Pearl Koestal Harris. He was a member of the United Methodist Church in Tribune. He served his... [More]
William “Pug” Eugene Mitchell passed away at Logan County Senior Center in Oakley on Wednesday, March 8, 2023 at the age of 83. He was born April 10, 1939 in Beloit. He was the son of William Arthur Mitchell and Edna Sophronia (Colby) Mitchell. Pug began... [More]
Denis James Weber was born at the family farm in Sheridan Lake, Colorado on September 15, 1933 to Frank and Agatha Weber. He was the eighth of eight children. After struggling with complications of COPD, he passed away at his home on Monday, March 7, 2023. Denis loved... [More]
Joyce L. Nemechek, 92, passed away at the Greeley County Long Term Care on Thursday, March 2, 2023, in Tribune. She was born on February 5, 1931, in Horace, Kansas, to parents Herman and Iva Rhea Smith, who preceded her in death. She married Bernard (Bernie) Nemechek... [More]
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