Amazing Facts about Ogallala Aquifer

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Ogallala Aquifer is the low aquifer water table situated below Great Plains of the southern regions of the USA. An aquifer is geologically a bed of rock underneath the surface of the Earth, holding a substantial amount of sweet water. The Ogallala Aquifer covers eight states of the USA including Nebraska, South Dakota, Colorado, Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico, Wyoming and Texas. This particular aquifer is a fragment of HPAS or High Plains Aquifer System where the Ogallala geologic unit consists of eighty percent of High Plains. According to geologists, the formation of Ogallala Aquifer took place around 2-6 million years ago, from the latter half of the Miocene to the earlier Pliocene ages of geological era. The Rocky Mountains were active tectonically then and its erosions provided sediments which were carried by river channels to form the aquifer.

Ogallala Aquifer is a geological phenomenon that remains largely unknown or little known to the common people. Here are some of the lesser known facts about the aquifer:

The Ogallala Aquifer was named in 1898 C.E by N.H. Darton. The reason of its nomenclature was its type of locality which was near the Ogallala town of Nebraska.

The aquifer is one of the largest aquifers on the planet, underlying an area of approximately 450,000 sq. kilometres.

The Ogallala Aquifer is the main source of irrigation for 27% of all the cultivated lands in USA. It also supplies drinking water to 82% of the people who live within the High Plains area.

Unlike usual groundwater, aquifers are water reserves on rock-beds and hence replenish themselves only slowly if the water is constantly used. Irrigation has reduced the water level of the Ogallala Aquifer by 9% since the 1950s, which will need 10000 years to get replenished naturally.

The depth of the formation of the Ogallala Aquifer varies 10000 feet to 100 feet in different places.

The whole region below which the Ogallala Aquifer lies is one of the most fertile regions on Earth and great for livestock farming.

The United States Geological Survey has estimated the total water storage of about 2,925,000,000 acre feet in the Ogallala Aquifer during 2005. This has probably reduced marginally since then.

In 2000, an estimate claimed that 14 billion gallons of water was being withdrawn from the Ogallala Aquifer per day for the purpose of irrigation only.

The natural recharge of the aquifer lies between 0.61 mm in a year and 6 inches per year beneath some places of Texas.

Serious conservation attempts have been taken by the USGS to ensure that Ogallala Aquifer gets replenished and the water is not wasted. There have been other conservationist attempts as well. During the 1980s, Frank Ford, an organic foods farmer of Texas protested against the plans of setting up a repository of nuclear waste in his county on the grounds that it will seriously jeopardise the Ogallala Aquifer and all the people dependant on it. He succeeded in his cause.

It is one of the prime sources of groundwater in the USA and is of extreme value to the nation. A lot of people’s livelihoods depend on it.

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