U.S. Water News Online
WASHINGTON -- Lawmakers are trying to add protections for
the Ogallala aquifer to the farm bill passed recently by the House.
A plan that has been introduced is aimed at conserving groundwater
by paying producers who curb water usage in the aquifer's
eight-state, 174,000 square mile region. Nearly all the water in
southwest Kansas comes from the Ogallala, which lies beneath 30,000
acres in Kansas.
``Our water is the lifeblood of the Kansas farm economy, and we
need to do all we can to protect it for future generations,'' Rep.
Jerry Moran, R-Kan., said. ``Without significant conservation
measures, the life of the Ogallala is limited.''
Moran and Rep. Tom Udall, D-N.M., introduced the measure in the
House, while Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., plans to push it in the
Senate, which has begun work on the farm bill.
Besides incentive payments for using less water, the 10-year,
voluntary program would help share the cost of irrigation structures
or equipment that help conserve water.
The measure is aimed at improving how the aquifer's water usage is
measured and would set up the High Plains Aquifer Council to
coordinate conservation measures.
The House has approved a $170 billion bill to extend farm and
conservation assistance programs over the next 10 years. A final
version will be hammered out after the Senate passes its version of
the farm bill.
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