The Ogallala Aquifer is life to the high plains. The depletion of that resource moved Kansas State University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service, Texas Tech University, Texas A&M University, and West Texas A&M University to team up and work together to preserve the vital resource according to the High Plains Journal.
The result was the Ogallala Aquifer Program, which recently won the 2013 USDA Secretary’s Honor Award in the category of enhancing economic vitality and quality of life in rural America. The award is the most prestigious departmental award given by the Secretary.
Dan Devlin is a K-State Research and Extension faculty member, as well as the director of the Kansas Center for Agricultural Resources and the Environment and the Kansas Water Resources Institute. He is part of the Ogallala Aquifer Program team and attended the USDA awards ceremony.
He said the project has allowed for collaboration among many universities and the USDA-ARS, as well as across entities. All of the western Kansas agricultural research centers and many areas of academic specialty on the K-State campus, including animal science, agronomy, biological and agricultural engineering, civil engineering and agricultural economics, participated in program research.
It is amazing, he said, how farmers and ranchers in western Kansas understand the problem and are willing to do what they can to conserve water now so future generations will have it to use.
“They are living with it,” Devlin said. “For many of them, it has already impacted them significantly.”
Devlin went on to say there’s a lot of work yet to do.
The Ogallala Aquifer Program helps to understand water management, and to develop tools farmers and ranchers can use.