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Summit Focuses on Dwindling Water in Ogallala Aquifer

KSCB News - July 21, 2011 5:57 am

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) – In the parched fields of western Kansas,

the fate of the region’s economic future may lie deep underground

in the dwindling Ogallala aquifer.

On Thursday, farmers and politicians gather in Colby for an

economic forum hosted by Gov. Sam Brownback on how to extend the

aquifer’s life.

Roughly 94 percent of the groundwater is used for irrigation,

which supports livestock, meatpacking, ethanol and other

agricultural industries.

The aquifer’s decline had slowed since the 1960s. But it

accelerated again after 2000 when another drought cycle hit western

Kansas. Farmers began pumping more out.

In southwest Kansas, tests in January showed the aquifer had

dropped more than 5 feet in some places in a single year. The

aquifer generally recharges only a half-inch a year.


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