Aquifers not growing in size after heavy rains

Capitol Bureau

Rain generic

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Lakes and reservoirs control much of the flow of water in the eastern part of the state, but out west, underground aquifers are a large source of water.

Many lakes are filling up after the heavy rains, but does that help the underground supply of water.

“The way that it most benefits aquifers is that it reduces pumping that an irrigator would normally have to do, and in some cases their fields may be inundated,” said Cara Hendricks, Chief of Hydrology for the Kansas Water Office.

The water office handles the planning of water resources in the state.

The main aquifers running beneath Kansas don’t increase in size like lakes do with heavy rains. There may be a slight gain of water, but they’re mostly a depleting resource.

That’s why when rain isn’t as common, like last year, only a certain amount of water is allowed to be used.

“In times of drought, there’s a priority system, so depending on when you had that water right, when you first had that water right, it could be a senior right, so the older rights are senior, and the new rights are junior,” said Hendricks.

For lakes and reservoirs, the extra water won’t be saved for a dry period of time. It’s being released in case more rain comes.

“I think we’re going to be in this situation through the fall because it takes a long time for that flood storage to be released,” said Hendricks.

The water office says reservoirs are facing different challenges because too. Sediment is building up in the bottom of them, meaning there is less space for water.

The office says they will still be monitoring lake levels because on average June is the rainiest month across Kansas and that often carries over into July.

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