The Origin and Evolution of Safe-Yield Policies in the Kansas Groundwater Management Districts

Research paper by Marios Sophocleous

Indexed on: 01 Jun '00Published on: 01 Jun '00Published in: Natural Resources Research


The management of groundwater resources in Kansas continues to evolve. Declines in theHigh Plains aquifer led to the establishment of groundwater management districts in themid-1970s and reduced streamflows prompted the enactment of minimum desirable streamflowstandards in the mid-1980s. Nonetheless, groundwater levels and streamflows continued todecline, although at reduced rates compared to premid-1980s rates. As a result, “safe-yield”policies were revised to take into account natural groundwater discharge in the form of streambaseflow. These policies, although a step in the right direction, are deficient in several ways.In addition to the need for more accurate recharge data, pumping-induced streamflow depletion,natural stream losses, and groundwater evapotranspiration need to be accounted for in therevised safe-yield policies. Furthermore, the choice of the 90% flow-duration statistic as ameasure of baseflow needs to be reevaluated, as it significantly underestimates mean baseflowestimated from baseflow separation computer programs; moreover, baseflow estimation needsto be refined and validated.