The Ogallala Aquifer is an almost incomprehensible natural resource, due to its geographical size and overall economic, cultural, and historical scope. It’s one of Great Plain’s only dependable water sources, and the largest freshwater aquifer (by volume) in the world, spread across parts of 8 states. The aquifer stretches over 800 miles north to south, straddling the 100th meridian, the dividing line between the arid and non-arid halves of our nation.
The Ogallala Aquifer underlies roughly 174,000 square miles, directly serving Wyoming, South Dakota, Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Texas. It’s thought to have originally contained around 3.25 billion acre-feet of water within its massive gravel, clay, and sandy beds. Its groundwater reserves are generally found anywhere from 50 to 300 feet beneath the soil surface, depending on location. Landscapes north of Kansas and Colorado have saturated thickness of around 1,000 feet, while in many areas south of those states, the thickness of the Ogallala is only 100 feet or less.
In the past seventy years, ever-increasing usage has greatly diminished this finite water resource, especially in the southern High Plains section. With food demands rising across the world and exponential increases in domestic population, further depletion of this nonrenewable resource has become a major concern. Coupled with frequent droughts, wells in many parts of the Ogallala are literally running dry.
Ogallala Commons is launching the Stewarding Our Aquifer Initiative as a response to the extensive problems associated with the diminishing water resources of the Great Plains. Stewarding our aquifer is critical the vitality of the Great Plains. Our response must engage, include, and motivate a majority of people living in the Ogallala Aquifer region if our Initiative is to have any measurable, lasting impact.
We seek to create a large online community across the High Plains, built around education and information. We’ll be working to connect, inspire, and empower people to actively steward the great gift of the Ogallala Aquifer.