Ozark Plateaus

  • Hydrogeology


  • The chief engineer has determined the safe yield for the Ozark Plateau aquifer to be at least three times the current authorized quantity, or approximately 36,000 acre-feet. The moratorium on groundwater appropriations that has been in place since 2004 has been lifted. 
  • For more information on the Ozark Plateau aquifer system, groundwater modeling and the determination of safe yield, please see the fact sheet and the hydrologic report.


  • Water quality issues due to mine contamination in the Springfield aquifer, as well as the potential salt water contamination to the Ozark aquifer


  • Manage the Ozark Plateau aquifer system and surface water sources in southeast Kansas for long-term sustainability, to meet current and long-term growth demands, provide good quality water, and meet Minimum Desirable Streamflow

Current Activities:

  • Kansas is monitoring the aquifers for short and long-term changes to water levels and water quality using existing and newly installed monitoring wells
  • The moratorium on groundwater appropriations that has been in place since 2004 has been lifted.
  • Term permits issued since the 2004 moratorium have become regular appropriation permits.

Groundwater Flow Model:

The Ozark Plateau aquifers are an important source of water for the region of southeast Kansas, southwest Missouri, northeastern Oklahoma and a small portion of northwest Arkansas. The system consists of two aquifers that have a discontinuous confining layer. The upper aquifer is the Springfield Plateau aquifer. The lower is the Ozark aquifer.

Ozark Confining Unit Diagram

The Springfield Plateau aquifer contains fresh water in southwest Missouri and northeast Oklahoma. There it is shallow and can produce enough water for domestic purposes. Water quality of the Springfield Plateau aquifer in Kansas is poor. It may be unfit for domestic use because of significant lead and ore mining in the Tri-State Mining District. Mining shafts have allowed contaminated water to move from the surface into the deeper Ozark aquifer.

The Ozark aquifer contains usable water in southeast Kansas. It is the source for most of the groundwater supplied to area municipalities and rural water districts. At the bottom of the Ozark aquifer is a brine layer of salt water. That layer is moving west to east across Kansas. Some also are concerned that significant groundwater pumping in areas could potentially cause upwelling of brines within the aquifer. This could decrease the water quality.

In 2004, the Kansas Department of Agriculture – Division of Water Resources established a moratorium on new appropriations from the Ozark aquifer in Kansas. It was established because of two reasons. First, there was an uncertainty about the available water supply in the Ozark aquifer. In addition, there were water quality concerns. The map below shows the moratorium region, as well as the salt-water transitional zone of concern.