Sustainable use of groundwater must ensure not only that the future resource is not threatened by overuse, but also that natural environments that depend on the resource, such as stream baseflows, riparian vegetation, aquatic ecosystems, and wetlands are protected. To properly manage groundwater resources, accurate information about the inputs (recharge) and outputs (pumpage and natural discharge) within each groundwater basin is needed so that the long-term behavior of the aquifer and its sustainable yield can be estimated or reassessed. As a first step towards this effort, this work highlights some key groundwater recharge studies in the Kansas High Plains at different scales, such as regional soil-water budget and groundwater modeling studies, county-scale groundwater recharge studies, as well as field-experimental local studies, including some original new findings, with an emphasis on assumptions and limitations as well as on environmental factors affecting recharge processes. The general impact of irrigation and cultivation on recharge is to appreciably increase the amount of recharge, and in many cases to exceed precipitation as the predominant source of recharge. The imbalance between the water input (recharge) to the High Plains aquifer and the output (pumpage and stream baseflows primarily) is shown to be severe, and responses to stabilize the system by reducing water use, increasing irrigation efficiency, adopting water-saving land-use practices, and other measures are outlined. Finally, the basic steps necessary to move towards sustainable use of groundwater in the High Plains are delineated, such as improving the knowledge base, reporting and providing access to information, furthering public education, as well as promoting better understanding of the public's attitudinal motivations; adopting the ecosystem and adaptive management approaches to managing groundwater; further improving water efficiency; exploiting the full potential of dryland and biosaline agriculture; and adopting a goal of long-term sustainable use. ?? Springer-Verlag 2005.
Additional publication details
Groundwater recharge and sustainability in the High Plains aquifer in Kansas, USA