U.S. Water News Online
LINCOLN, Neb. -- Groundwater levels dropped by one to five
feet between 2002 and 2003 in many heavily irrigated areas, according
to a survey by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
The information was culled from measurements taken at some 5,000
The lingering drought and recent legislation to prevent conflicts
between groundwater and surface water users contributed to the
declines, said Jim Goeke, a University of Nebraska hydrogeologist.
The study showed groundwater level changes in the High Plains
aquifer that underlies much of Nebraska.
The most dramatic drops were in the heavily irrigated Platte,
Republican, Loup, Blue and Elkhorn River basins.
Only the Sandhills and parts of southeast Nebraska showed little
to no changes in groundwater levels between 2002 and 2003.
In the past 50 years, there has been significant recharge of the
aquifer in parts of Dawson, Gosper, Phelps and Kearny counties, where
rises of more than 50 feet have been recorded.
The aquifer in that area is estimated to contain four to five
times the 1.75-million-acre-foot capacity of Lake McConaughy, said
Mark Burbach, an assistant geoscientist at UNL.
Other significant rises in groundwater levels -- some as much as
50 feet -- have been recorded in Lincoln, Valley, Greeley, Sherman
and Howard counties.
Water levels in aquifers underlying Nebraska have remained largely
constant over the last 50 years, Burbach said.
The High Plains aquifer underlies more than 104 million acres of
land in South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, Colorado, Kansas, New
Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.
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