Eichinger, Kruger Help Study Kansas River Environment

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Two faculty research engineers from IIHR--Hydrosciene & Engineering will join a team of water specialists at the Kansas Geological Survey, based at the University of Kansas, to monitor the environment along the Whitewater River in Butler County, Kansas, west of El Dorado and northeast of Wichita.  The study is supported by a $172,000 grant from the National Science Foundation.

They are William Eichinger, William D. Ashton Professor of Civil Engineering and professor of civil and environmental engineering, and Anton Kruger, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering.
Evaporation and thirsty plants draw water out of river environments.  What impact that has on the state's vital water resources will be studied by Eichinger, Kruger, and the Kansas Geological Survey scientists. They will look for fluctuations in the river's stream flow and in soil moisture and groundwater levels in the area abutting the river known as the riparian zone.

Soil moisture and groundwater, normally abundant in riparian zones, can be reduced by evaporation or transpiration - the release of water into the atmosphere by plants as part of photosynthesis. Deep-rooted plants, such as hackberry, elm and green ash trees, may tap into groundwater and release more moisture into the air than is replaced by precipitation.

Atmospheric and hydrologic models will be developed from data gathered in the study and used to understand the effect of water cycle processes on such matters as flood control, sustainable water supplies, agricultural practices and preservation of the environment.