A practical methodology for recharge characterization was developed based on several years of field-oriented research at 10 sites in the Great Bend Prairie of south-central Kansas. This methodology combines the soil-water budget on a storm-by-storm year-round basis with the resulting watertable rises. The estimated 1985-1992 average annual recharge was less than 50mm/year with a range from 15 mm/year (during the 1998 drought) to 178 mm/year (during the 1993 flood year). Most of this recharge occurs during the spring months. To regionalize these site-specific estimates, an additional methodology based on multiple (forward) regression analysis combined with classification and GIS overlay analyses was developed and implemented. The multiple regression analysis showed that the most influential variables were, in order of decreasing importance, total annual precipitation, average maximum springtime soil-profile water storage, average shallowest springtime depth to watertable, and average springtime precipitation rate. Therefore, four GIS (ARC/INFO) data "layers" or coverages were constructed for the study region based on these four variables, and each such coverage was classified into the same number of data classes to avoid biasing the results. The normalized regression coefficients were employed to weigh the class rankings of each recharge-affecting variable. This approach resulted in recharge zonations that agreed well with the site recharge estimates. During the "Great Flood of 1993," when rainfall totals exceeded normal levels by -200% in the northern portion of the study region, the developed regionalization methodology was tested against such extreme conditions, and proved to be both practical, based on readily available or easily measurable data, and robust. It was concluded that the combination of multiple regression and GIS overlay analyses is a powerful and practical approach to regionalizing small samples of recharge estimates.
Additional publication details
Quantification and regionalization of groundwater recharge in South-Central Kansas: Integrating field characterization, statistical analysis, and GIS