North Plains Groundwater Conservation District

Reflections on Ogallala Blue

Apr 14, 2017
CREATIVE COMMONS

I appreciate Kathy Holt asking me to review Ogallala Blue by William Ashworth for High Plains Public Radio. I had read the book several years ago, and recently read it again for the review. 

Ogallala Blue is a good read for those who are focused on water resource challenges from the environmental, socio-economic, engineering, or well owner perspective. Ashworth uses a series of case studies to describe the history and future challenges of the Ogallala aquifer on the High Plains.    Today, many High Plains communities exist and thrive because of the Ogallala.

In Texas, Ogallala water levels have been declining since the 1930’s because well owners have been pumping more water from the aquifer’s storage than recharge can replenish.  As aquifer levels decline, finding and pumping water becomes progressively costlier to the region’s economy.  I agree with Jeff Johnson’s interview in the book that the High Plains economy based on pumping from the Ogallala will not experience a collapse but “a long slow decline to a lower level”.  To maintain the High Plains economy, stakeholders will need to develop other economic input sources that do not rely so heavily on groundwater.

Conserving Water in Hays, Kansas

Mar 22, 2017
JASON RIEGEL / City of Hays, Kansas

Ogallala Blue, Water and Life on the High Plains explains how groundwater mining of the Ogallala has become a way of life. How much water do we urban folk utilize, and what can we do to reduce groundwater usage?  Fortunately, a modal to answer this question exists in Ellis County, KS, the only KS County having more than 15,000 population, too dry to rely on surface water supplies and lacking a substantial aquifer.

For the 20,000 citizens of Hays Kansas, located in Ellis County, retaining a quality life has meant water conservation.  Comparisons by USGS of City average per capita water usage in gallons from 2009 to 2013 measures Hay’s water efficiency: Colby 294 gpc, Goodland  283, Garden City: 204, Liberal 188, Dodge City 175 and Hays 93 gpc.

If Only We . . .

Jan 27, 2017
Wayne Hughes, Amarillo

“Water.” Regardless who uses the word it means exactly the same thing in every language.  Without it, we perish before the sun sets on the sixth day without it.  When it is scare, hard to find, we abandon all other pretenses of civilization and seek after it with deadly determination, whether we’re alone in the middle of the desert or a mighty nation whose crops may fail in the coming spring.

Jerod Foster

Motivated by water district regulations and a falling water table, a handful of farmers in the Texas Panhandle are participating in a water conservation project.  Farmers like Harold Grall, are implementing technology and changing farming practices to reduce water use and remain profitable reported The Texas Tribune.