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Evaluation of methods for estimating ground-water withdrawals in western Kansas

January 1, 1994

During 1978, methods of estimating ground-water withdrawals in western Kansas were examined and evaluated, using both existing data from the files of the U.S. Geological Survey and newly collected data.

Values for annual ground-water withdrawals reported to the Division of Water Resources, Kansas State Board of Agriculture, by water users probably contain substantial errors because most individual users do not possess the means to measure or accurately estimate the discharge rates of their wells. Such reported values are estimated to average 10 to 15 percent higher than the actual discharge rate. Values obtained from discharge-totaling meters are reasonably accurate, but few wells are equipped with these meters, and the cost of equipping all wells with meters may be prohibitive. Measured rates of power consumption can give good estimates of total withdrawal from wells where the power consumption is measured. However, power-consumption values cannot be extrapolated reliably from one well to another.

Three techniques are regarded as promising for estimating areal ground-water withdrawals from readily collected data:

  1. Examination of a small sample of withdrawal values from metered wells indicates that the statistical approach used by Luckey (1972) may be applied to western Kansas to estimate total withdrawal with acceptable accuracy in a large area from a statistical sample of measured values.
  2. Measured values of irrigation application at a small number of selected wells might be used to compute total withdrawal for irrigation by crop type and precipitation zone. Evaluation of reported values of irrigation-water application for selected crops in zones of generally similar precipitation showed that, although the reported values are judged to be erroneously high, the reported values were consistent with each other and with average precipitation.
  3. Power-consumption coefficients may be used to calculate an average coefficient for an area. The method described by Luckey (1972) was used to calculate the number of power-consumption coefficients that would have to be determined to estimate the mean power consumption of wells pumped by electric or natural-gas engines. The results indicate that as few as 100 values would produce results accurate to within 10 percent of the true average at the 95-percent confidence level. Thus, power coefficients for a particular type of irrigation system in any given area can be used even though values of power coefficients have little transfer value from well to well.

Efforts by the Instrument Development Laboratofy of the U.S. Geological Survey to design improved instruments for measuring ground-water withdrawals have produced two promising results:

  1. An electronic running-time meter (Running-time Sentry) that was tested during 1978 in western Kansas and Florida appears to give accurate values of total pumping time. Large-scale testing of this prototype running-time meter is planned for 1979.
  2. A low-cost discharge-totaling meter (REELTOT), based on the concept of sensing the velocity head in a pipe with differential-pressure transducers permanently installed in the pipe, is nearly complete. Early prototypes of this instrument may be tested in western Kansas during 1979.

For the remainder of this study, the three techniques for estimating areal ground-water withdrawals described above will be tested on a larger scale in Groundwater Management District No. 1, an area of about 1,800 square miles in west-central Kansas. About 150 randomly selected wells will be equipped with Running-time Sentry units and monitored for total withdrawal, instantaneous discharge, and power consumption. A few wells will be equipped with prototype discharge-totaling meters. The performance of the Sentry units and discharge-totaling meters will be evaluated. Areal estimates of withdrawal from measured withdrawal values, from average power-consumption coefficients, and from irrigation application by crop will be calculated and compared with each other and with reported values of withdrawal.

Citation Information

Publication Year 1979
Title Evaluation of methods for estimating ground-water withdrawals in western Kansas
DOI 10.3133/wri7992
Authors Claud H. Baker
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series Number 79-92
Index ID wri7992
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse