An effort continues to preserve the Ogallala Aquifer, one of the great water resources in the United States that agriculture depends on.
The Ogallala Aquifer Initiative actually began in 2010 and ran for five years. The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service wants to keep it going.
State Conservationist Craig Derickson notes the importance of the Ogallala.
“The Ogallala Aquifer is responsible for a large portion of all of the crop production in the United States,” Derickson tells Nebraska Radio Network.
The Ogallala Aquifer is one of the largest aquifers in the world, running underneath eight states. Derickson is quick to point out it is not just one big body of water. It actually has three sub-sections. The northern portion of the Ogallala runs underneath Nebraska and Kansas. The central portion runs from southern Kansas to Oklahoma with the southern portion in Texas and New Mexico.
Derickson says ongoing conservation efforts have gotten Nebraska farmers and ranchers involved in conserving water and becoming more aware of the effect fertilizer has on water quality. He says such efforts have kept the northern section healthy.
“The aquifer here is in good shape and is being managed very well,” according to Derickson. “Because the aquifer is so different and it gets thinner the farther south that you go, water scarcity is a huge issue and concern down in Texas.”
According to the USDA, the main goals of the Ogallala Aquifer Initiative are to reduce aquifer water use, improve water quality and enhance its economic viability for crops and pasture in all eight states: Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, New Mexico, Texas, South Dakota, and Wyoming.
Withdrawals from the Ogallala have exceeded the capacity for it to replenish in some areas. Some fertilizer has leached into the aquifer.
Derickson says irrigation management, nutrient management, and crop selection all go into efforts to preserve the aquifer.
Federal money from the USDA will be used for targeted conservation efforts. Proposals were to be submitted by last week.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:50]