Cornhusker Economics

Effects of Irrigation and Climate on the High Plains Aquifer

The High Plains Aquifer (HPA), sometimes known in Nebraska as the Ogallala Aquifer, is an enormous resource underlying 112 million acres across parts of eight states, from South Dakota to Texas.

Our research has previously estimated that irrigation water drawn from the HPA adds at least $2 billion worth of additional crops per year in Nebraska alone, and $3.5 billion across the entire HPA1.

In the years ahead, world population growth will surely increase the pressure for irrigation from the stock of water in the HPA. But pumping that water from the aquifer can increase the depth to groundwater which can cause a number of associated environmental and economic problems.

This raises the important social issue of how much aquifer water should be withdrawn for irrigation.

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2019 Cornhusker Economics