Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Ogallala Aquifer being drained by U.S. farmers

Seed Daily via UPI: The Ogallala Aquifer, a reservoir of groundwater underlying eight western states, is being rapidly drained, Kansas State University researchers say.

In a study released Monday, a research team led by David Steward, a professor of civil engineering, predicted the aquifer will be 69 percent depleted by 2060 at current rates of use. Replacing the water in the aquifer would take from 500 to 1,300 years, Steward said.

The aquifer, part of the High Plains Aquifer System, underlies parts of Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska and South Dakota, taking its name from the town of Ogallala, Neb. More than one-quarter of the irrigated farmland in the United States gets its water from the Ogallala.

In 1960, the aquifer was only 3 percent depleted. That has increased to 30 percent. Steward predicts farmers will continue to become more efficient in their use of water, helped by crops bred or genetically designed to use less. He expects water use to peak in 2025 and crop yields to increase until about 2040. After that, he said, depletion of the aquifer will depend on what choices are made....

The Ogallala Aquifer and the location of a proposed Keystone Pipeline crossing over it. How's that for sheer stupidity? Shot by 570ajk, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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