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Overview and Issues of the High Plains Aquifer, Oklahoma, 2010. Mark F. Becker U.S. Geological Survey Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Outline of Presentation. Issues (addressed throughout presentation) Location and Setting Oklahoma Water Law Hydrology and Water-Quality

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overview and issues of the high plains aquifer oklahoma 2010

Overview and Issues of the High Plains Aquifer, Oklahoma, 2010

Mark F. Becker

U.S. Geological SurveyOklahoma City, Oklahoma

slide2

Outline of Presentation

  • Issues (addressed throughout presentation)
  • Location and Setting
  • Oklahoma Water Law
  • Hydrology and Water-Quality
    • Water-Uses and Effects of Withdrawal
    • Future of Irrigated Agriculture
  • Conclusions
issues
Issues
  • Long way from State Capitol
  • Sparsely Populated (Small Legislative Representation)
  • Oklahoma Water Law
  • Groundwater Level Declines
  • Future for Irrigation
slide5

Issue # 2: Sparse Population

Colorado

Estimated Population of Panhandle in 2009 was 30,035

Kansas

Oklahoma

New Mexico

Texas

setting
Setting
  • Overlies approximately 7,100 mi2 in Oklahoma
  • Texas County is Largest Ag Producer in OK
  • Mean annual precipitation around 19-in/yr
  • Temperature range: -25o F to +110o F
  • Average lake evaporation = 62-in/year
  • Average runoff (pre-1970) = 0.2-in/year
land use oklahoma portion
Land Use (Oklahoma Portion)
  • 56% rangeland
  • 40% dry cropland
  • 4% irrigated cropland
harvested acres oklahoma portion
Harvested Acres (Oklahoma Portion)
  • Wheat 2,600,000 acres
  • Corn 800,000
  • Sorghum 700,000
  • Hay 300,000
  • Other 65,000
livestock oklahoma high plains
Livestock (Oklahoma High Plains)
  • 620,000 cattle in 1992
  • 750,000 cattle in 1997
  • 20,000 swine in 1992
  • > 2,700,000 in 1999
issue 3 oklahoma water law
Issue #3: Oklahoma Water Law
  • Oklahoma has a “mining” based regulatory approach to groundwater
    • Property Right
    • Allows for depletion over time
    • Allocations are for high capacity wells and until determined set at 2 acre-ft/ac/yr for land owned
    • Does not recognize hydraulic connection to surface water
    • No effective monitoring
  • Kansas has highly regulated sustainable based law
  • Texas has essentially no jurisdiction over groundwater
hydrogeology
Hydrogeology
  • Series of coalescing alluvial fans consisting of sand, clay, and gravel that can exceed 500’ in thickness
  • Well yields can exceed 2,000 GPM
  • Direction of groundwater flow is from west to east
  • Recharge is distributed
  • Recharge is relatively rapid
  • Water-level declines from irrigation withdrawals
center pivot technology changed irrigation practices
Center Pivot Technology Changed Irrigation Practices
  • Land with rolling topography could be irrigated
  • Circles are 0.5 mile in diameter
  • Each well pumps about 1,500 gpm
saturated thickness 1998
Saturated Thickness (1998)

50-100

>300

<50

100-300

issue 4 water level declines
Issue #4: Water-Level Declines
  • Long-term effects on streamflow
    • Ecosystems
    • Treated municipal wastewater
  • Increased pumping costs
  • Potentially reduces irrigated agricultural opportunities
  • Creates acrimony (whiskey’s for drinking, water’s for fighting)
water level changes to 1980
Water-Level Changes to 1980

Declines more than 100 feet in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas

Declines of 10-50 feet widespread

Rises more than 25 feet in Nebraska

Large areas of little on no change

water level changes to 1997
Water-Level Changes to 1997

Areas of declines have expanded

Areas of rises have expanded, especially in Texas and Oklahoma

Large rises in Nebraska continue

slide23

A Lesson in Planning: The Beaver/North Canadian River Basin

Near Guymon 07232500

Optima Lake

At Beaver

07234000

At Woodward

07237500

Well

Canton Lake

Near Seiling

07238000

Stream Gaging Station

Ground Water Well

upstream face of optima dam in 1990
Upstream face of Optima Dam in 1990

Aerial Photo by Dale Boyle, U.S. Geological Survey

recharge
Recharge
  • Myth #1: Recharge comes from snowmelt in the Rockies
  • Myth#2: Aquifer receives little or no recharge
  • Reality: Distributed recharge from precipitation
slide33

DeuteriumVSMOW ‰

18O/16OVSMOW ‰

predevelopment recharge
Predevelopment Recharge
  • 4.0% of precipitation in sand-dune areas. Averaged 0.69 inches per year. 139,000 acre-feet per year. 14% of model area.
  • 0.37% of precipitation in other areas. Averaged 0.07 inches per year. 85,000 acre-feet per year. 86% of model area.
cultivated dryland recharge
Cultivated Dryland Recharge
  • Extra recharge due to dryland cultivation
  • 3.9% of precipitation over area in dryland; about 0.65 inches per year
  • 345,000 acre-feet per year
dryland recharge
Dryland Recharge

30

Depth to Water

40

50

1940

1990

slide38

Issue # 5: Future of Irrigation

  • Tied to prices of fuel and crops
  • New technologies allow exploitation of lower well yields
  • Genetically modified crops
  • Low/No Till methods
  • Economy of scale; larger farms, less farmers
conclusion
Conclusion
  • Politically, not well represented but recognized by the economic value.
  • Contrasting water management strategies on borders
  • Declines in water levels
    • Increased costs
    • Loss of surface water
  • Potential for technological advances to keep irrigated agriculture a component
slide42

Conclusions

  • NO3 is elevated in most wells
  • NO3 is found at all well depths
  • 15N indicates the presence of animal wastes
  • Changes ahead as more data is evaluated
slide43

OWRB Data

NO2 + NO3mg/L as N

Estimated Depth to Water in Feet

slide45

Animal

15NAir ‰

Mixed Animal, Fertilizer, or Soil

Fertilizer

NO2 + NO3 mg/L as N

types of water quality data owrb
Types of Water-Quality Data (OWRB)
  • Field measurements (temperature, pH, alkalinity, O2, specific conductance)
  • Chemical analyses (common ions, metals, nutrients, 15N, 18O, and deuterium)
  • Age dating (tritium, tritium/helium, and 14C)
slide47

Kansas

Sub Unit Survey

Reconnaissance

Public Supply

Colorado

Oklahoma

New Mexico

Texas

Location of Central High Plains NAWQA Study Area

slide48

Tritium

NO2 + NO3 mg/L as N

water quality data collected in 1999
Water-quality Data Collected in 1999
  • Oklahoma water resources board (OWRB)- 12 Wells
  • NAWQA Sub Unit Surveys- 94 wells
  • NAWQA Regional Transect - 5 well clusters (15 Wells)
  • NAWQA reconnaissance - 5 wells
  • NAWQA Public Supply Survey- 15 wells
outline of presentation
Outline of Presentation
  • Describe Oklahoma setting and similarities to the entire Central High Plains
  • Describe Oklahoma High Plains study and High Plains NAWQA
  • Water-quality in Oklahoma High Plains
  • Conclusions
slide51

Animal

 15NAir ‰

Mixed Animal, Fertilizer, or Soil

Fertilizer

Estimated Depth to Water in Feet