Dr. Dave Steward talks about the High Plains Aquifer

(Dr. Dave Steward) Yes, the High Plains Aquifer., it lies in the middle of the United States. It covers eight states from South Dakota to Texas. It’s important; it provides approximately 30% of all the irrigated water used for agriculture in the United States. With this study, what we showed is that the peak depletion has occurred in some states already. The capacity to pump the most amount of water has already occurred first in Texas and in New Mexico. The peak is just past in Kansas, and the peak will occur in a short time in Oklahoma and in Colorado. That rate of depletion can’t increase forever. It can increase to a certain level when it has to go down over time, because there’s only a certain amount of water in the aquifer that we can take out. We saw that there were curves that were showing up in some of the states that basically follow the same functional form that Hubbert saw, when he was looking at peak oil depletion back in the 1950s. There’s an increase and a peak is reached, then there’s a decrease as we move, as we progress to a new state. As we project out, what happens over the future or into the future, it basically, the amount of depletion that we have, the amount of water that comes out of the aquifer by having the water table grow lower, will decrease by about half over the course of the next hundred years. If we’re on a declining trend right now, and people have opportunities to make choices, and to change the way that things are done, this just helps I think to add to that dialogue a little bit.

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