The Ogallala Aquifer is being depleted by irrigation, and Kansas State University believes changes to farming methods are necessary. Fox News reports on Aug. 27 that a new study reveals the aquifer is being depleted at a rapid rate because of irrigation by farmers. The Ogallala Aquifer, also known as the High Plains Aquifer, has already been depleted by 30 percent.
Researchers believe the Ogallala Aquifer is in danger and could be depleted by 69 percent in 50 years. They blame irrigation for the rapid depletion and state the aquifer cannot replenish quickly. The Kansas State University report warns farmers that it may take up to 1,300 for the Ogallala Aquifer to replenish if it is depleted completely.
Kansas is trying to limit overpumping of the aquifer through the creation of a mandatory water management program. The High Plains Aquifer’s life can be extended through better irrigation measures and smarter use of water. Although there has been progress in efficiency, researchers point out more effort is needed. Jim Butler explains, “We are depleting the High Plains Aquifer at current rates of withdrawal, and we must significantly reduce pumping if we are to extend the lifetime of the resource.”
Researchers predict farmers will begin noticing the depletion soon since the Ogallala Aquifer supplies 30 percent of the water for irrigation in the United States. If changes are made, it may be possible to extend the life of the aquifer for another 100 years, but farmers will have to drastically reduce their water usage.