Monday, May 09, 2011

Ogallala Aquifer, a vast reservoir that makes the High Plains green, is being depleted

Though "people continue to use" the Ogallala Aquifer, an underground water supply that lies beneath the High Plains ,"as if it were a renewable resource, some geologists fear it could dry up in as soon as 25 or 30 years," Katharine Seelye of The New York Times reports. (Science Daily map)

The aquifer spans 174,000 square miles and supplies water for residential, industrial, and agricultural use in eight states. It supplies the center-pivot irrigation systems that put green circles on the landscape in areas that are usually brown.

"The Ogallala was first pumped 100 years ago to irrigate farms and ranches," Seeyle writes. "It is being drained faster than nature can recharge it, especially in the most arid areas . . . where high winds accelerate the evaporation of what little moisture there is." (Read more)

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