Kansas could be facing more severe droughts in the future, according to a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey
''It could get much, much worse,'' said Jim Putnam, a hydrologist with the USGS.
The USGS report shows that in the most recent drought from 2000 to 2006, rainfall levels were not that far from normal, only about one inch less than average.
By comparison, the rainfall deficit during the devastating 1952-57 drought was nearly 6 inches below normal. Yet streamflows during the 2000-2006 drought hit record lows.
''In the summer of 2006, flows at four long-term USGS stream gauges on the Republican, Saline, Solomon and Smoky Hill rivers in north-central and central Kansas were significantly lower than the 1930s and 1950s even though the rainfall deficit was not as severe,'' Putnam said.
That means if Kansas experiences the kind of rainfall deficits of the 1930s and 1950s, then the flow in some rivers would become virtually zero, he said.