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Kansas Water Science Center

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The Ozark Aquifer is an important water supply source for cities, rural water districts, agriculture, and industry in southeast Kansas, southwest Missouri, and northeast Oklahoma. Water supply wells in some areas of the aquifer have experienced water level declines in recent years. With a growing demand for water within the region, concerns about future water availability prompted by water-level declines and water-quality degradation, have created a need to better understand this valuable resource in order to better address its long-term management. 

TRI-STATE MODEL AREA To address water supply and quality issues, the U.S. Geological Survey initiated a multi-year study in August 2005 in cooperation with the efforts of the state water agencies in the Tri-State area (Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri). A model was developed that simulated groundwater flow within the Ozark and Springfield Plateau aquifers and included interaction between ground and surface water. The model allows resource managers to simulate the effect of additional groundwater withdrawals and provide valuable water availability information. 

The study also assessed the water-quality conditions in the Ozark aquifer and provided information on vertical variability of water quality within the aquifer near Pittsburg, Kansas, where brackish water intrusion is a concern. 

In the spring of 2006, the depth to water was measured in over 200 wells throughout the Tri-State region. This information was used to construct the most detailed regional water level map of the Ozark Aquifer to date. This and other data such as water use needed to construct the regional groundwater flow model were compiled. 

The Ozark Aquifer Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) comprising representatives from the three state water agencies, the USGS, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), and local representatives, Pete Rauch (city of Monett, Missouri) and Bob Kirby (Kansas Rural Water Association), met by phone quarterly to discuss the progress of the study. Three public meetings were held to provide area residents with information about the progress and results of the study.

This study was co-funded by the U.S. Geological Survey and the State of Kansas. The groundwater model and water-quality study reports were published and the study concluded in August 2009.


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