What is the main problem with the Ogallala Aquifer?

The Ogallala Aquifer is being both depleted and polluted. Irrigation withdraws much groundwater, yet little of it is replaced by recharge. Since large-scale irrigation began in the 1940s, water levels have declined more than 30 meters (100 feet) in parts of Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas.

What is the problem with the Ogallala Aquifer?

Aside from the devastating effects on agriculture, a study recently published by a team of stream ecologists concluded that depletions to the Ogallala Aquifer are also leading to fish extinctions in the region. Streams and rivers that depend on the aquifer are drying out after decades of over-pumping.

What is the biggest threat to the Ogallala Aquifer?

And the more arid High Plains to the west are known as the nation’s breadbasket because wheat, a drought-tolerant crop, thrives there. The Keystone XL pipeline posed a potential threat to a limited region. But agricultural waste and pollution are damaging the entire Ogallala Aquifer right now.

Why is the Ogallala Aquifer in danger?

Global warming is likely to make droughts across the Ogallala region longer lasting and more intense over the next 50 years. … However, current extraction for irrigation far exceeds recharge in this aquifer, and climate change places additional pressure on this critical water resource.

What caused the Ogallala Aquifer depletion?

Groundwater pumping for agricultural irrigation is likely responsible for substantial depletions of the Ogallala Aquifer, which underlies 175,000 square miles in Oklahoma and seven other states, a report by the U.S. Geological Survey suggests.

What happens if the Ogallala aquifer dries up?

If the aquifer goes dry, more than $20 billion worth of food and fiber will vanish from the world’s markets. And scientists say it will take natural processes 6,000 years to refill the reservoir.

What state has the largest aquifer?

The Ogallala Aquifer is the largest aquifer in the United States. It is part of the High Plains aquifer system, which underlies parts of eight states from Texas to South Dakota.

How long will the Ogallala Aquifer last?

Within 50 years, the entire aquifer is expected be 70% depleted. Some observers blame this situation on periodic drought. Others point to farmers, since irrigation accounts for 90% of Ogallala groundwater withdrawals.

How deep is the Ogallala Aquifer?

The saturated thickness of the Ogallala aquifer in the North Plains Groundwater Conservation District ranges from 10 to over 460 feet with an estimated District average of 180 feet. The depth from land surface to the base of the aquifer can range from the land surface to as much as 1000 feet below surface.

What is the biggest aquifer in the world?

The High Plains Aquifer is the largest underground freshwater source in the world. It underlies 174,000 square miles of the Central Plains and has the same amount of water as Lake Huron.

Can the Ogallala aquifer be recharged?

The Connection

More than 80,000 playas overlay and, when healthy, recharge the Ogallala Aquifer. … Recharge rates in playa basins are 10 to 1,000 times higher than under other areas, and groundwater recharge may exceed three inches per year in unaltered playas. This recharge through playas is a continuous process.

Do aquifers refill?

Most aquifers are naturally recharged by rainfall or other surface water that infiltrates into the ground. However, in regions where groundwater use is greater than natural recharge rates, aquifers will be depleted over time.

Will the Ogallala Aquifer run dry?

Within 50 years, the entire aquifer is expected be 70% depleted. Some observers blame this situation on periodic drought. Others point to farmers, since irrigation accounts for 90% of Ogallala groundwater withdrawals.

Do aquifers dry up?

Depending on geologic and hydrologic conditions of the aquifer, the impact on the level of the water table can be short-lived or last for decades, and it can fall a small amount or many hundreds of feet. Excessive pumping can lower the water table so much that the wells no longer supply water—they can “go dry.”

What is the #1 contributor to groundwater contamination in the United States today?

In the U.S. today, there are thought to be over 20,000 known abandoned and uncontrolled hazardous waste sites and the numbers grow every year. Hazardous waste sites can lead to groundwater contamination if there are barrels or other containers laying around that are full of hazardous materials.

What can be done about the Ogallala Aquifer?

Using less water can help save the Ogallala Aquifer. At the current rate of use, part of the Ogallala could be exhausted within this century and may take 6,000 years to restore. It is important to develop agricultural innovations to area farmers sustain agricultural production in that region.