Study: High Plains Aquifer Mostly Gone in 50 years

ogallala-aquiferA new study forecasts that 69 percent of the water in the High Plains Aquifer in Kansas will be depleted within 50 years at current usage rates.

The paper by researchers at Kansas State University was published Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. It focuses on the Ogallala aquifer in western Kansas.

The study estimates that 30 percent of the aquifer was depleted by 2010 and an additional 39 percent is expected to disappear by 2060.

The researchers found that natural recharge accounts for just 15 percent of the pumping rate. Once the water is gone, the study projects it will take between 500 and 1,300 years to refill it.

Researchers say water savings now could prolong the aquifer through 2110.

  • bosco

    I believe it. just take a look at those massive irrigation engines irrigators in Western Kansas run to pump all that water onto their fields. how many gallons do those guys use?? a lot. i don’t think it will take 50 years to deplete it. it will be sooner than that.

  • conserve

    To anyone that uses water – PLEASE conserve it. This is dry land. We are drought stricken right now and we need to conserve ALWAYS here.

  • Agua

    Agree with Bosco, it may well be sooner. A marginal central pivot produces 400gpm… just 8 of these irrigation wells, pumping 400 gpm for 15 hours a day would more than satisfy Hays’ 2.5 million gallon/day summer water habit. City water use isn’t the problem.

  • A_citizen_patriot

    While I agree that the aquifer is more important. If we stop all irrigation you will see food prices go up. Then people will complain about food being too high.

    • Marie

      I don’t think the corn that’s being irrigated is feeding people. In any case, I think we would be better off with a little higher prices for food if it meant we could still take a shower or get a drink out of our faucet.

      • A_citizen_patriot

        It may or may not be, it may be used for ethanol. What ever the use, reducing irrigation reduces amount of corn. There is now less for cattle, people, or ethanol. Any time the price of corn goes up so does food prices. Please dont get me wrong, I agree with you. But you cant take away one thing and expect everything else to stay the same.

        • bertha

          maybe we’re not meant to raise corn in Kansas. maybe go back to more dry land crops like wheat. corn takes a lot of water. and i’ve seen these irrigation machines. let me tell ya. they can move some water. but at the rate its going this aquifer will be depleted and then what? everybody suffers.

          • Chris

            Let’s take that even further..maybe we are not meant to have such a high diet in meats–especially beef. The amount of water to produce one pound of beef is astronomical compared to raising one pound of vegetables. In biology, we go by the guideline that only 10% of energy can go up the food chain. So only 10% of the energy in corn can be used by that cow. Water needs would work in a similar way such as this.

            I love the occasional steak and hamburger, but there has to be a point when the ‘stubborn midwest mentality’ is shed, and logical thought replaces it.

  • rainer

    and what has our own city of hays leaders done with plans to conserve water? no watering at all between noon at 7PM. oh boy. even they don’t follow this. few days ago the parks dept. was watering their potted plants in downtown hays as well as 8th and Vine park plants AFTER 1 PM. good example you set. should be like Gomer Pyle and yell, “citizens arrest, citizens arrest!!”

    • A_citizen_patriot

      Havnt you heard? Public officials are above the law