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Streamflow alteration at selected sites in Kansas

June 26, 2017

An understanding of streamflow alteration in response to various disturbances is necessary for the effective management of stream habitat for a variety of species in Kansas. Streamflow alteration can have negative ecological effects. Using a modeling approach, streamflow alteration was assessed for 129 selected U.S. Geological Survey streamgages in the State for which requisite streamflow and basin-characteristic information was available. The assessment involved a comparison of the observed condition from 1980 to 2015 with the predicted expected (least-disturbed) condition for 29 streamflow metrics. The metrics represent various characteristics of streamflow including average flow (annual, monthly) and low and high flow (frequency, duration, magnitude).

Streamflow alteration in Kansas was indicated locally, regionally, and statewide. Given the absence of a pronounced trend in annual precipitation in Kansas, a precipitation-related explanation for streamflow alteration was not supported. Thus, the likely explanation for streamflow alteration was human activity. Locally, a flashier flow regime (typified by shorter lag times and more frequent and higher peak discharges) was indicated for three streamgages with urbanized basins that had higher percentages of impervious surfaces than other basins in the State. The combination of localized reservoir effects and regional groundwater pumping from the High Plains aquifer likely was responsible, in part, for diminished conditions indicated for multiple streamflow metrics in western and central Kansas. Statewide, the implementation of agricultural land-management practices to reduce runoff may have been responsible, in part, for a diminished duration and magnitude of high flows. In central and eastern Kansas, implemented agricultural land-management practices may have been partly responsible for an inflated magnitude of low flows at several sites.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2017
Title Streamflow alteration at selected sites in Kansas
DOI 10.3133/sir20175046
Authors Kyle E. Juracek, Ken Eng
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Scientific Investigations Report
Series Number 2017-5046
Index ID sir20175046
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Kansas Water Science Center