History and Overview

Big Bend Groundwater Management District No. 5 (GMD5) was formed in March of 1967 under the authority of Kansas Statutes Annotated 82a-1020 et seq. The District was formed through the efforts of local citizens and was incorporated by the Secretary of State. Thirteen items were identified as purposes of the District. These purposes are directly related to the conservation of the District's groundwater.

Purposes of the District

  1. Establish a data gathering bank including the measurement of water withdraw, measurement of aquifer recharge, and other pertinent information.
  2. Establish a water quality monitoring program.
  3. Discourage waste of water.
  4. Develop an educational program on optimum water use.
  5. Develop well spacing criteria.
  6. Encourage accurate production measurements.
  7. Promote tail-water pits.
  8. Exert action to prevent water pollution.
  9. Review replacement wells.
  10. Review and authorize annual appropriation of water usage.
  11. Investigate alternate points of diversion.
  12. Explore and develop artificial recharge.
  13. Provide advice and assistance in the management of drainage problems and surface water.

An inside look at GMD5

There are nine hydrologic units within the boundaries of the District. These are the Walnut Creek subbasin, Pawnee River subbasin, Cow Creek subbasin, Arkansas River subbasin, Rattlesnake Creek subbasin, North Fork of the Ninnescah subbasin, South Fork of the Ninnescah subbasin, Medicine Lodge River subbasin and the Chikaskia River subbasin. There are also two notable wetlands within the District's boundaries, Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Refuge and Quivira National Wildlife Refuge.


GMD5 covers approximately 2.5 million acres; this includes 569,725 authorized irrigated acres. There are 4,523 water rights, with 5,459 points of diversion. The total authorized quantity these water rights can produce is 768,784 Acre-Feet, or 250,509,035,184 gallons of water.