Kansas Playa Wetlands Groundwater Recharge

Playa wetlands have been scientifically shown to be the primary source of recharge to portions of the Ogallala Aquifer in Kansas and other parts of the region. The Ducks Unlimited playa restoration program is designed to assist communities desiring to recharge waning aquifer resources in the High Plains states. In Kansas, we have identified 10 communities that are facing critical water issues (30 feet of aquifer water remaining) that may be alleviated by the playa program, and as a bonus, Kansas has a mature partnership of organizations looking for solutions to these water issues.

We propose a series of workshops, printed materials, and one-on-one visits to help bridge the information gap for landowners and organizations and then assist those landowners with the restoration of the wetland resources. Our goals are to share the importance and function of playas, to find collaborative approaches to restoration through diverse partners, and to provide expertise on playa conservation and related funding sources.

Working with a diverse partnership of city/county governments, municipalities, wildlife agencies, state tourism agencies, farm service agencies, and others, we will share the importance and function of playas, find collaborative approaches to playa restoration, and provide expertise on playa conservation and related funding sources. Recommended restoration activities include filling pits, removing sediment, removing terraces, plugging ditches, installing native shortgrass vegetation buffers, and managing surface water runoff to flow into playas as well as exploring ways to reduce agricultural irrigation pressures on the aquifer. Multiple cost-share conservation programs are available, and we will focus these resources where we can have the greatest impact on groundwater recharge for priority communities. Additionally, we will explore ways to work with landowners interested in playa conservation even if they do not qualify for existing cost-share opportunities. We will develop a set of best management practices and FAQs specifically for Kansas.

As this program is exportable to 58 other communities in the western High Plains that have a similar profile of a declining aquifer and a high density of playas around their town, we anticipate expansion into other states in the future.

* Project restores natural hydrologic conditions to facilitate improved capture and infiltration of surface water and groundwater recharge


Western Kansas

Start Up Date:


Project Benefits:

Community Engagement & Education

Enhancing Recreation & Economic Benefits

Environmental Flow Restoration & Protection

Groundwater Conservation & Replenishment

Increasing Water Conservation & Efficiency

Water Quality Improvement

Wildlife & Habitat Protection

Project Type:

Restoration of Natural Hydrology *


Funding Needed