December 28, 2010
Kansas Department of Agriculture
(785) 296-2653 phone
Model shows more groundwater available for use in southeast Kansas
Chief engineer to rescind water rights moratorium for Ozark Plateau aquifer
TOPEKA—A 2009 comprehensive model of the Ozark Plateau aquifer system shows that more groundwater is available for use without compromising the long-range water supply.
“Based on what we learned from the model developed by the U.S. Geological Survey, it appears the supply can support about three times the amount of water that’s currently authorized for use and still meet safe yield standards,” said David Barfield, chief engineer of the Kansas Department of Agriculture’s division of water resources. “Because of this, I will rescind the water rights moratorium that’s been in place for the aquifer since 2004.”
Safe yield for the area is defined as the use that can be sustained without reducing storage in the aquifer by more than 25 percent over the next 100 years. The division of water resources calculates safe yield at 36,000 acre-feet, about three times more than is currently authorized.
Safe yield was determined using a comprehensive model of the aquifer system developed by the U.S. Geological Survey and MODFLOW software to analyze the effects of increased groundwater use on the long-term availability of groundwater in an area that includes southeast Kansas, southwest Missouri and northeast Oklahoma.
“The model was extremely useful to answer our concerns about the quantity and quality of groundwater in this aquifer system,” Barfield said. “Based on the model results, there is clearly sufficient water available to allow the moratorium term permits that have been in place since 2004 to become regular water appropriation permits and to re-open the area to new appropriations.”
The area will be opened through a regulation to be developed in 2011.
Concerns about the quantity and quality of groundwater in the aquifer system prompted the chief engineer to designate a moratorium area in 2004 on new groundwater appropriations from the system. The moratorium exempted certain minor uses and allowed moratorium term permits from the Ozark Plateau aquifer until further studies could be completed.
The Ozark Plateau aquifer system is an important water source for southeast Kansas, southwest Missouri, northeast Oklahoma and a small part of northwest Arkansas. The system consists of two aquifers that have a discontinuous confining unit. The upper aquifer is the Springfield Plateau aquifer; the lower is the Ozark aquifer.
Learn more at www.ksda.gov/subbasin/content/297.