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High Plains Aquifer Water-Level Monitoring Study
Water-Level Changes in the High Plains Aquifer—Predevelopment to 1987-88

By William M. Kastner, Donald E. Schild, and Debra S. Spahr

U.S. Geological Survey
Water-Resources Investigations Report 89-4073
Denver, Colorado


Changes in water levels in the High Plains aquifer underlying parts of South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas are caused by interacting changes in precipitation, land use, and annual pumpage. Water levels declined from the time aquifer development began until 1980 throughout parts of the High Plains of Nebraska, Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas. From 1980 through 1987, water-level changes were mixed, with declines of 10 feet to greater than 25 feet in the highly develped areas of Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas and almost stable to rising water levels throughout the remaining area of the aquifer. The net change was a rise of 0.8 foot. Precipitation generally was greater than normal during 1981-1987; therefore, pumping for irrigated agriculture decreased.

Water-level changes also were mixed during 1987. Water-level declines continued in some highly developed areas, but water levels generally rose throughout most of the aquifer. The average area-weighted change was a rise of 0.28 foot. This rise was due to the generally greater than normal precipitation, a decrease in irrigated acreage, and a decrease in pumpage for those areas irrigated.

At the end of the 1988 growing season the drought in the Midwest affected only limited areas of the High Plains. The effects of the drought on water levels in the High Plains aquifer can not be assessed until the water-level measurements for the nonirrigation season of 1988-89 are compiled.

This report (WRIR 89-4073) is available online.

To obtain a copy of this report, please contact:

USGS Nebraska Water Science Center
5231 South 19th Street
Lincoln, Nebraska 68512-1271
Phone (402) 328-4100
FAX (402) 328-4101

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