The high plains aquifer is drying up from Texas to Kansas, sending farmers scurrying for alternative, less water-intensive, crops and stocks.
The New York Times explains:
Since the pivot [irrigation systems'] debut some six decades ago, the amount of irrigated cropland in Kansas has grown to nearly three million acres, from a mere 250,000 in 1950. But the pivot irrigators’ thirst for water — hundreds and sometimes thousands of gallons a minute — has sent much of the aquifer on a relentless decline. And while the big pivots have become much more efficient, a University of California study earlier this year concluded that Kansas farmers were using some of their water savings to expand irrigation or grow thirstier crops, not to reduce consumption.
At an average 14 inches per acre in a growing season, a corn crop soaks up groundwater like a sponge — in 2010, the State Agriculture Department said, enough to fill a space a mile square and nearly 2,100 feet high.
The USGS provided the groundwater map of the region for the story.
Wellintel CEO Marian Singer is featured on “WisBusiness: The Show” this week, answering questions about the need, the solution and the impact of better groundwater information. Her interview begins at 4:37.
If you talk with people (homeowners and farmers) in water stressed regions (60% of US), they’ll tell you that groundwater is property value.