Going, Going, Gone: High Plains Drains its Water Supply

Years of record drought and more intensive farming are draining the High Plains Aquifer, distressing farmers from Colorado to Texas. Rural communities are suffering from dwindling water supplies.
May 21, 2013, 5am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
Share Tweet LinkedIn Email Comments

Along the southern reaches of the High Plains Aquifer, "a waterlogged jumble of sand, clay and gravel that begins beneath Wyoming and South Dakota and stretches clear to the Texas Panhandle," increasingly intensive farming and drought are diminishing the ability of farmers to adequately irrigate their crops. 

"Vast stretches of Texas farmland lying over the aquifer no longer support irrigation. In west-central Kansas, up to a fifth of the irrigated farmland along a 100-mile swath of the aquifer has already gone dry," reports Michael Wines. "In many other places, there no longer is enough water to supply farmers’ peak needs during Kansas’ scorching summers."

"This is in many ways a slow-motion crisis — decades in the making, imminent for some, years or decades away for others, hitting one farm but leaving an adjacent one untouched. But across the rolling plains and tarmac-flat farmland near the Kansas-Colorado border, the effects of depletion are evident everywhere."

Full Story:
Published on Sunday, May 19, 2013 in The New York Times
Share Tweet LinkedIn Email