Assessing the Prospects for Sustainability
of Aquifers Supporting Irrigated Agriculture

Jim Butler
Kansas Geological survey

Thursday, october 18th, 2018 @ 12:00pm

**Please note Thursday meeting
& NEW location**

Golder Associates, Inc
44 Union Boulevard, 6th Floor
Lakewood, CO 80228


Lunch orders must be received by end of day Monday prior to the event.

Unfortunately we are no longer able to accept payment for lunches at the door.

Please prepay for your lunch or feel free to bring your own.



Golder Associates, Inc.

44 Union Blvd, 6th Floor

Lakewood, CO 80228



Aquifers are under stress worldwide as a result of large imbalances between inflows and outflows. These imbalances are particularly severe in aquifers in semi-arid regions that are heavily pumped for irrigation, such as the High Plains aquifer (HPA) in the central United States. If these aquifers are going to continue to support agricultural production, the current rates of water-level decline must be significantly reduced.  In most cases, the only option will be to reduce pumping. The key question then is how much of a reduction is needed. At the Kansas Geological Survey, we have developed a water-balance approach for rapid assessment of the impact of proposed pumping reductions. This approach, which is particularly well suited for assessing the short- to medium-term (years to a few decades) response to management actions in seasonably pumped aquifers, also enables the net inflow (capture) term of the aquifer water balance and the specific yield to be directly calculated from annual water-level and water-use data. Application to the data-rich Kansas portion of the HPA reveals that practically achievable reductions in annual pumping (≈20-25%) would have a large impact across the aquifer and could stabilize water levels in some areas for at least the near future. Water resources managers are often in a quandary about the most effective use of scarce funds for data collection in support of aquifer assessment and management activities. In addition to water-level data, a greater emphasis should be placed on collection of reliable water-use data, as greater resources devoted to direct measurement of pumping will yield deeper insights into an aquifer's future. Kansas and Colorado are the U.S. leaders in collection of reliable water-use data, so we are better poised to make defensible, science-based decisions about groundwater resources than many of our colleagues elsewhere.


Jim Butler is a Senior Scientist and Chief of the Geohydrology Section of the Kansas Geological Survey at the University of Kansas. He holds a B.S. in Geology from the College of William and Mary, and a M.S. and Ph.D. in Applied Hydrogeology from Stanford University. His research interests include assessment of aquifers that support irrigated agriculture, high-resolution subsurface characterization, well responses to natural and anthropogenic stimuli, and the role of phreatophytes in stream-aquifer systems. Jim was the 2007 Darcy Distinguished Lecturer of the National Ground Water Association and the 2009 Pioneers in Groundwater Award honoree by the American Society of Civil Engineers - Environmental and Water Resources Institute. He has held visiting researcher positions at Sandia National Laboratory, the University of Tübingen, Universitat Politècnica de València, and Stanford University.