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Midwest groundwater experts to convene for annual conference

Friday, September 12, 2014

LAWRENCE — The health and future of vital Midwestern groundwater resources will be the focus of the 59th annual Midwest Ground Water Conference, which will be Sept. 30-Oct. 2 at the Holiday Inn in Lawrence.

The event is hosted by the Kansas Geological Survey (KGS), based at the University of Kansas, and six other state, federal and university entities.

“The meeting provides an opportunity for those studying, managing, protecting and planning for groundwater resources in the Midwest to discuss mutual issues and share ideas and solutions for addressing groundwater problems,” said Don Whittemore, KGS senior scientific fellow and conference coordinator. “This is becoming increasingly important as water resources reach quantity limits and various quality considerations grow in both urban and rural environments in the region.”

On average, 64 percent of the freshwater for municipal water supplies, irrigation, livestock and industry in 14 Midwestern states comes from groundwater. Kansas and Nebraska depend on the highest percentage of groundwater, at 88 and 85 percent, respectively. The other Midwestern states, which have sponsored the conference in the past, are Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

Sessions and presentations at the conference will address such resources and regions as the massive High Plains aquifer, which provides nearly all of the water for a large portion of western and south-central Kansas; the Lower Republican River Basin in Kansas; the Sand Hills region of Nebraska; the Ozarks; and the Ohio River Basin.

Topics to be presented relate to groundwater quantity, quality, and management, groundwater and energy production, and interaction between groundwater and surface water. Talks will be given on hydraulic fracturing, also called “fracking,” and induced seismicity, or earthquakes caused by human activity including the disposal of saltwater into deep underground saline aquifers. 

Besides the KGS, the planning committee for the conference is composed of representatives from the U.S. Geological Survey, KU Department of Geology, Kansas Water Office, Kansas Department of Health and Environment, Division of Water Resources in the Kansas Department of Agriculture and the Kansas State University Center for Agricultural Resources and the Environment.

Approximately 130 hydrogeologists, geologists, engineers, students and others studying groundwater resources are expected to attend. Participants represent local, state and federal agencies, colleges and universities, and industries. The meeting will include a field trip on the water resources of the alluvial aquifer in the lower Kansas River valley and 44 technical presentations.