Average groundwater levels throughout western and central Kansas dropped more in the past year than they had annually since 1996, according to preliminary data compiled by the Kansas Geological Survey.
In January the KGS and the Kansas Department of Agriculture’s Division of Water Resources measured levels in approximately 1,400 water wells in 47 western and central Kansas counties as part of an annual assessment program. The preliminary data show that the Equis Beds saw a decline of more than 3.1 feet this past year. Its significantly more than the 2/10ths of a foot and the 7/10ths of a foot it lost the two previous years. Before that the aquifer had seen an over all increase in its level of nearly half a foot from 1996 to 2011.
Big Bend GMD 5, centered on the Great Bend Prairie aquifer underlying Stafford and Pratt counties and parts of Barton, Pawnee, Edwards, Kiowa, Reno and Rice counties, had a decline of 2.95 feet. Levels there were up 0.63 feet two years ago, down 0.44 feet last year, and prior to the 2012 measurements, the district had a slight overall water-level increase of 0.82 feet between 1996 and 2011.