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New USGS Map of High Plains Aquifer Represents Conditions After Enacting Changes To Agricultural Management Practices

February 13, 2017

Water-level changes from 2002 to 2015 were examined in wells screened in the High Plains aquifer within the Republican River Basin and the results are now available in a new U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Map.

Changes ranged from a rise of 9.4 feet to a decline of 43.2 feet. The area-weighted, average water-level change during this 13-year period was a decline of 4.5 feet. The USGS conducted this study, at the request of the Middle Republican Natural Resources District, to help the District assess the effect of changes in agricultural management practices.


“The Middle Republican Natural Resources District is constantly looking for the newest and best information available for our producers. This project with USGS helps the MRNRD achieve that goal,” said Sylvia Johnson, MRNRD. “Having the latest information to assess current management actions helps ensure that there will be a sustainable aquifer for generations to come.”


The High Plains aquifer underlies 111.8 million acres (about 175,000 square miles) in parts of eight States—Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas and Wyoming. More than 95 percent of the water withdrawn from the High Plains aquifer is used for irrigation. Water-level declines began in parts of the High Plains aquifer soon after the beginning of substantial irrigation that used groundwater in the aquifer area (about 1950). The Republican River Basin is 15.9 million acres (about 25,000 square miles) and is located in northeast Colorado, northern Kansas and southwest Nebraska. The Republican River Basin overlies the High Plains aquifer for 87 percent of the basin area.


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