Our water-limited future. Let the adaptation begin

02 Mar

We have drained enough water to half-fill Lake Erie of the Great Lakes. Billions upon billions of gallons – or, as they prefer to measure it, acre-feet of water, each one equivalent to a football field flooded a foot deep – have been pumped. ‘The problem is that in a brief half-century we have drawn the Ogallala level down from an average of 240ft to about 80.-

David Brauer of the US Agriculture Department agency, the Ogallala Research Service on the state of the Ogallala aquifer believed to be the world’s largest body of fresh water which yields about 30 %of America’s ground water used for irrigation and 82 % of the drinking water for people who live in the vicinity

Our water-future plays out in Texas

The world’s largest fresh water aquifer going drier by the day shows us the way of our water-limited future

It takes about 11 gallons of water to produce a slice of bread, 7 for a Potato, 3 for a tomato, and 36 for an egg, 53 for a glass of milk and 37 gallons for a cup of coffee, irrigation scientist Wayne Myer reckons.  That’s about 147 gallons just for your breakfast.

You think that isn’t pricey? Ask a Texan farmer what that means.  Agricultural producers in the north-western part of the state, a major agricultural powerhouse in the world’s largest food producer, have to face limits on the amount of groundwater they can pump from their own wells on their own property.

Irrigators in northwest Texas rely on the Ogallala aquifer, an underground water reserve, considered the world’s largest body of fresh water. The problem is that the aquifer is all-too-rapidly disappearing

The average annual depletion of the aquifer rate between 2000 and 2007 was more than twice that during the previous fifty years. The depletion is most severe in the southern portion of the aquifer, especially in Texas, where the water table beneath sizeable areas has dropped 100-150 feet; in smaller pockets, it has dropped more than 150 feet, National Geographic reports.

Ogallala makes up more than three-quarters of the High Plains aquifer, which spans 175,000 square miles and underlies parts of eight U.S. states — Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, and Wyoming. Water drawn from it irrigates 15.4 million acres of cropland, 27 percent of the nation’s total irrigated area.

As groundwater runs dry, the weather hasn’t been too helpful either. The stretch from October 2010 to August 2011 was the driest 11-month period in Texas since 1895, when the National Weather Service started tracking such things.

Governor Rick Perry, a Republican Presidential candidate and son of a cotton farmer, recently asked supporters to pray for rain. The government estimates 33 percent of the U.S. cotton crop will be lost, topping the record of 27 percent in 1933.

The Texas drought, the worst in more than a century, has spurred a record $5.2 billion in farm losses, according to a unit of Texas A&M University.

It is the way of our water-limited future. Let the adaptation begin.


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