USGS: Ogallala Groundwater Levels Continue to Decline

December 16, 2014

The U.S Geological Survey says the High Plains Aquifer, also known as the Ogallala, is losing groundwater likely due to increased groundwater pumping. 

The USGS released a report detailing an 8% decline between the years of 1950 and 2011. The overall average water-level declined about 15.4 feet. Between 2011 and 2013, the overall water level declined 2.1 feet.

USGS scientists say this is a substantial decline for a two-year period.

According to the summary of the study, major depletions began soon after substantial groundwater irrigation in the 1950s. In response to water level declines, Congress directed the USGS to monitor the High Plains Aquifer. The agency began releasing reports in the late 80s.

The Ogallala underlies almost 112 million acres across eight states including eastern Colorado, New Mexico, and Oklahoma.