LAWRENCE, Kan. (KAKE) - This summer, the Kansas Geological Survey says they will be conducting a new study of groundwater conditions in the Ogallala aquifer in the northwest portion of the state.

The KGS says the study will begin in late May and will continue into most of June, when residents may see a low-flying helicopter towing a large hexagonal frame to help map groundwater conditions in the Ogallala aquifer in Northwest Kansas Groundwater Management District No. 4.

The scientific equipment will hang below the helicopter 100 to 200 feet above the ground. The equipment is designed to map geologic structures and groundwater resources to depths of approximately 1,000 feet below the land surface.

The helicopter will be flown at about 50 mph by pilots who are specially trained for low-level flying and have a great deal of experience with airborne electromagnetic surveys, the KGS says. Flights will not occur over residential areas and other buildings, livestock feeding operations, or wind turbines.

"The Ogallala aquifer is the major water resource for agricultural, industrial, and municipal use in GMD4, " the KGS said. "Intensive pumping of the aquifer over the last 60+ years has resulted in large groundwater level declines in Sherman, Thomas, Sheridan, and Cheyenne counties. The information obtained in these flights will allow GMD4 and the Kansas Geological Survey to better assess the nature and continuity of water-yielding materials in the aquifer. The ultimate objective of the project is to obtain information that will assist GMD4 in developing strategies for charting more sustainable paths for the Ogallala aquifer in the district."

Similar electromagnetic surveys have been conducted in Nebraska, Colorado and Wyoming, but this will be the first of its kind flown in Kansas.