Total WAter Use Ogallala

Ogallala Water Data

A clutch of new data tools from Circle of Blue puts the Great Plains’ water crisis into context.

kansas texas water use ogallala choke point index circle of blue aubrey ann parker jordan bates

Map © Jordan B. Bates and Aubrey Ann Parker / Circle of Blue
Infographic: Fresh groundwater withdrawals in Texas and Kansas from 1985 to 2005, as well as information on groundwater levels in the Ogallala Aquifer. Click image to enlarge.

The southern Great Plains are drier now than in the Dust Bowl years of the 1930s. What to do with the Ogallala Aquifer — the largest underground source of fresh water in the United States — is an urgent matter for the farm states of the Great Plains. The aquifer is shrinking, and water districts from Nebraska to the Texas Panhandle have considered plans to slow the rate at which their livelihood is pumped out of the ground.

But conservation was dealt a setback last week, when five counties in western Kansas rejected a measure to cut annual water use by 20 percent through 2020. This week, Circle of Blue reports on the failed conservation plan with a new set of data tools, maps, photos, and reporting that put the region’s water crisis into context. Data on crop yields illustrate the importance of irrigation. Charts showing water use by county reveal that 95 percent of fresh groundwater goes to agriculture, while a high-resolution map highlights the water districts that are responding to the challenges.

These tools are part of Choke Point: Index, an investigation into the condition of water resources in three essential American farm regions.

Failed Ballot Measure Is Setback for Ogallala Water Conservation in Western Kansas

Infographic: Ogallala Precipitation in Motion — 72 Years Animated GIF (1940 – 2012)

Map: Texas and Kansas Irrigated Crop Acreage (1985-2010)

Map: Texas and Kansas Water Use (1985-2010)

Map: The Ogallala Aquifer – A Freshwater Bonanza in Decline

Ogallala Water Use Climbs as Drought Intensifies in the Southern Plains

Q&A Julene Bair Author of Ogallala Road/

Slideshow: Texas and Kansas Farmers Take Different Path to Saving Water

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