Ground-water resources of Greeley and Wichita counties, Western Kansas

Open-File Report 75-557




Unconsolidated deposits of sand, silt, clay, and gravel compose the principal aquifer in Greeley and Wichita Counties. The deposits are as much as 300 feet (91 m) 2/ thick, of which as much as 145 feet (44 m) is saturated.

In 1972, there were about 1,040 large-capacity wells--yielding 100 gallons per minute (6.3 1/s) or more--in the counties, mostly for irrigation supplies. The wells yield as much as 2,000 gallons per minute (130 1/s). Withdrawals of ground water average about 220,000 acre-feet (270 hm3) annually.

Water levels have declined in parts of the area where large-capacity wells are concentrated, resulting in as much as 60-percent reduction in saturated thickness. Water-level declines during 1948-72 ranged from less than 10 to about 55 feet (3-17 m). The largest decline, about 55 feet (17 m), has occurred near Leoti, in central Wichita County. As of January 1972, about 5 million acre-feet (6,000 hm) of ground water were in storage in Greeley and Wichita Counties; however, only about 70 percent of this amount is considered to be available for pumping.

The water from the unconsolidated aquifer is a mixed chemical type in which calcium, sodium, and bicarbonate are the principal constituents. Generally, the water is suitable for all common domestic, stock, and irrigation uses.

Price increases for grain in 1973 and absence of acreage controls probably will encourage additional development of ground water for irrigation. Increased withdrawals will, however, accelerate the rate of water-level decline and reduction in ground-water storage. Increased water-level declines will be accompanied in most of the area by noticeable decreases in well yields. Any additional increase in the rate of withdrawal in areas where saturated thickness has declined about 40 percent or more may significantly shorten the economic life of the aquifer. Additional development in these areas should be considered with regard to increasing pumping costs and decreasing well yields. Development of the ground-water resource could be managed in several ways. The formation of Kansas Ground-Water Management District Number 1 provides a means by which local water users can decide on various management alternatives that would affect the future of their irrigation supply.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Ground-water resources of Greeley and Wichita counties, Western Kansas
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Contributing office(s):
Kansas Water Science Center
63 p.
United States
Greeley County, Wichita County