Scuttling decades of habit, legal precedence, and cultural resistance, agriculture on the Great Plains reluctantly moves toward decisions on water use, crop yields, and profits that have been put off for decades.
The most daunting barrier to widespread adoption of locally-driven cuts in water withdrawals from the Ogallala are deep-rooted legal legacies. Like the plains geography and hydrology, the law of the land is not uniform.
Though it looks like nothing more than a deep trench cutting across corn stubble and dark winter soil, the big water pipeline that construction workers are about to complete here in southern Nebraska is a powerful example of how water scarcity and the law are converging to change farm production practices on America’s Great Plains.
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