High Plains Aquifer does not hold never-ending water supply

November 27, 2010 • Local News

Snowmelt and a small amount of rain, the Sacramento Mountains and beneficial underground strata combine to give the Pecos Valley a naturally replenishing water source and, thus, some aquatic autonomy. Still, as introduced in this series’ previous articles, the region has faced its share of water nightmares.

Clovis and eastern New Mexico also have access to an underground water source. Theirs, however, is much more expansive than the Pecos Valley’s Roswell Artesian Basin. Eastern New Mexico farmers and developers who, in the 1940s, watered crops with the aquifer’s bounty must have considered the source’s vastness a blessing. Now, that perspective has likely changed.

The High Plains Aquifer (elsewhere called the Ogallala Aquifer) extends under eight dif ferent states — from South Dakota and Wyoming south to Texas and New Mexico — and waters one-fifth of America’s annual agricultural output. Over the past century, eastern New Mexico communities have used the aquifer to support ranching and fields of corn, milo and wheat.

However, due to the region’s precarious location snug on the aquifer’s western limit, as early as 2020, the waters in the saucer – shaped underground formation will have fallen out of reach of Clovis, Portales and their neighbors. Because of rampant overuse, the aquifer’s water levels are dropping precipitously.

Eastern New Mexico, along with parts of Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, is one of the earlier areas to be affected. Prior to its development in the 1940s, scientists believe the 300 feet of the aquifer tucked under Clovis were replete with water. Now, Login to read more

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