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Reconnaissance of water quality in the High Plains Aquifer beneath agricultural lands, south-central Kansas

Water-Resources Investigations Report 87-4003

By:
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Abstract

The High Plains of western Kansas was one of 14 areas selected for preliminary groundwater quality reconnaissance by the U.S. Geological Survey 's Toxic Waste--Groundwater Contamination Program. The specific objective was to evaluate the effects of land used for agriculture (irrigated cropland and non-irrigated rangeland) on the water in the High Plains aquifer. Conceptual inferences, based on the information available, would lead one to expect groundwater beneath irrigated cropland to contain larger concentrations of sodium, sulfate, chloride, nitrite plus nitrate, and some water soluble pesticides than water beneath non-irrigated land (range-land) The central part of the Great Bend Prairie, an area of about 1,800 sq mi overlying the High Plains aquifer in south-central Kansas, was selected for the study of agricultural land use because it has sand soils, a shallow water table, relatively large annual precipitation, and includes large areas that are exclusively irrigated cropland or non-irrigated rangeland. As determined by a two-tailed Wilcoxon rank-sum test, concentrations of sodium and alkalinity were significantly larger at the 95% confidence level for water samples from beneath irrigated cropland than from beneath rangeland. No statistically significant difference in concentrations of sulfate, chloride, nitrite plus nitrate, and ammonia, was detected. Concentrations of 2,4-D found in water samples from beneath the rangeland were larger at the 99% confidence level as compared to concentrations of 2,4-D in samples from beneath irrigated cropland. Larger concentrations of sodium and alkalinity were found in water beneath irrigated cropland, and the largest concentration of the pesticide atrazine (triazines were found in three samples) was found in water from the only irrigation well sampled. The sodium and atrazine concentrations found in water from the irrigation well support the premise that water-level drawdown develops under irrigated fields. This diverts the natural groundwater flow patterns, so that pumpage may cause recycling and subsequent concentration of leachates from the land surface. (Author 's abstract)

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Reconnaissance of water quality in the High Plains Aquifer beneath agricultural lands, south-central Kansas
Series title:
Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number:
87-4003
Edition:
-
Year Published:
1987
Language:
ENGLISH
Publisher:
U.S. Geological Survey,
Description:
vi, 25 p. ;28 cm.