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Maura Bennett No Drought but Great Plains Streams are Drying Up
by Maura Bennett, click here for bio

Program: Colorado Ag Today
Date: July 26, 2017

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Scientists warn that more than half a century of groundwater pumping from the High Plains Aquifer, also known as the Ogallala Aquifer, has led to long segments of rivers drying up.

Colorado State University Professor Kurt Fausch led the team which combined modeling from past and future to assess changes in Great Plains streams.

“From 1950 to 2010, we lost 350 miles of streams in this area. Projecting forward to 2060 we expect to lose another 180 miles of streams and small rivers in that region. Most of these wells were drilled in the 1960s to 1980s. That was a big boon of groundwater pumping. This area produces a very large amount of agriculture, a lot of the grain. We estimate the whole Ogallala Aquifer supplies maybe a sixth of the world’s grain supply.

How do we grow that much food and try to keep some of the rivers on the landscape?”

Scientists say farmers in the area hope to conserve enough water for future generations. Fausch says while no easy solution exists use of well meters and new technology will allow them to optimize the amount of water they do use. Even if all the pumping stopped tomorrow it would take about 100 years for the aquifer to refill.

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