Beginning in the 1940s, the Wichita well field was developed in the Equus Beds aquifer in southwestern Harvey County and northwestern Sedgwick County to supply water to the city of Wichita. The decline of water levels in the aquifer was noted soon after the development of the Wichita well field began. Development of irrigation wells began in the 1960s. City and agricultural withdrawals led to substantial water-level declines. Water-level declines enhanced movement of brines from past oil and gas activities near Burrton, Kansas and enhanced movement of natural saline water from the Arkansas River into the well field area. Large chloride concentrations may limit use or require the treatment of water from the well field for irrigation or public supply. In 1993, the city of Wichita adopted the Integrated Local Water Supply Program (ILWSP) to ensure an adequate water supply for the city through 2050 and as part of its effort to effectively manage the part of the Equus Beds aquifer it uses. ILWSP uses several strategies to do this including the Equus Beds Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) project. The purpose of the ASR project is to store water in the aquifer for later recovery and to help protect the aquifer from encroachment of a known oilfield brine plume near Burrton and saline water from the Arkansas River.
As part of Wichita’s ASR permits, Wichita is prohibited from artificially recharging water into the aquifer in a Basin Storage area (BSA) grid cell if water levels in that cell are above the January 1940 water levels or are less than 10 feet below land surface. The map previously used for this purpose did not provide an accurate representation of the shallow water table. The revised predevelopment water-level altitude map of the shallow part of the aquifer is presented in this report.
The city of Wichita’s ASR permits specify that the January 1993 water-level altitudes will be used as a lower baseline for regulating the withdrawal of artificial rechage credits from the Equus Beds aquifer by the city of Wichita. The 1993 water levels correspond to the lowest recorded levels and largest storage declines since 1940. Revised and new water-level maps of shallow and deep layers were developed to better represent the general condition of the aquifer. Only static water levels were used to better represent the general condition of the aquifer and comply with Wichita’s ASR permits. To ensure adequate data density, the January 1993 period was expanded to October 1992 through February 1993. Static 1993 water levels from the deep aquifer layer of the Equus Beds aquifer possibly could be used as the lower baseline for regulatory purposes.
Previously, maps of water-level changes used to estimate the storage-volume changes included a combination of static (unaffected by pumping or nearby pumping) and stressed (affected by pumping or nearby pumping) water levels from wells. Some of these wells were open to the shallow aquifer layer and some were open to the deep aquifer layer of the Equus Beds aquifer. In this report, only static water levels in the shallow aquifer layer were used to determine storage-volume changes.
The effects on average water-level and storage-volume change from the use of mixed, stressed water levels and a specific yield of 0.20 were compared to the use of static water levels in the shallow aquifer and a specific yield of 0.15. This comparison indicates that the change in specific yield causes storage-volume changes to decrease about 25 percent, whereas the use of static water levels in the shallow aquifer layer causes an increase of less than 4 percent. Use of a specific yield of 0.15 will result in substantial decreases in the amount of storage-volume change compared to those reported previously that were calculated using a specific yield of 0.20. Based on these revised water-level maps and computations, the overall decline and change in storage from predevelopment to 1993 represented a loss in storage of about 6 percent (-202,000 acre-feet) of the overall storage volume within the newly defined study area.