U.S. Water News Online
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Water levels in Oklahoma's groundwater
aquifers have dropped for decades and the situation has been made
worse by recent drought, water experts say.
Heavy spring rains in recent weeks have had only minimal impact,
said Oklahoma Water Resources Board spokesman Brian Vance, and state
officials are considering changing the way water is allocated.
"Shallower aquifers under rivers and streams will see some
noticeable improvement from the rainfall, but deeper aquifers respond
so slowly to wetness you're not going to see any immediate impact,"
Vance said. "Those aquifers, they just didn't appear overnight. They
pooled over many thousands of years and recharge happens very
The water resources board has begun holding public meetings, the
first of which was in the Panhandle town of Beaver, seeking input as
it drafts new water-allocation policies that could be in place by
Vance said the board is considering changes in the way it
calculates how much water each user can take, based on the number of
wells pumping from a single source. He said current laws are based on
an assumption that users would drain an aquifer within 20 years.
Groundwater advocates believe that assumption to be shortsighted
and that changes must be made.
Vance said a study by the board has indicated the levels of
Oklahoma's major aquifers have dropped in the last five years. The
Garber-Wellington Aquifer, which lies under Oklahoma City, plunged
more than six feet from 2001 to 2006.
The Ogallala Aquifer in the Panhandle, the Rush Springs Aquifer in
western Oklahoma and the Antlers Aquifer in far southeastern Oklahoma
all have dropped more than three feet during the same period, while
the Arbuckle-Simpson Aquifer in south-central Oklahoma has fallen
more than 21 feet.
"There's no doubt in anybody's mind the drought has had an effect,
but you would think it would be across the board," said Floy
Parkhill, the former president of Citizens for the Protection of the
The group's current president, Bob Donaho, said the aquifer is
recharged only by precipitation, making it more susceptible to dry
"We have to start trying to educate our legislators and our
government and our citizens we can't keep doing the same things as we
have been doing in the past," Donaho said.
"We've got the same amount of water on the planet as when there
were 100,000 of us and now there are 8 or 9 billion. What's going to
happen is going to be unpleasant for a lot of people."
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