Ogallala Aquifer depletion focus of meeting in Kansas


Kansas Geological Survey field research technician Connor Umbrell measures water levels in an irrigation well Thursday, Jan. 5, 2023, near Marienthal, Kan. Lawmakers are looking to take up groundwater issues in western Kansas in the upcoming session as the Kansas Water Authority is urging stricter usage measures to try to slow the steady decline of water levels in the Ogallala Aquifer. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

LIBERAL, Kan. (KSNW) – The Ogallala Aquifer Summit is set for March 18-19 in Liberal at the Seward County Fairgrounds. It will be the third time it has been held since 2018.

The Ogallala is a vast underground reservoir that covers 174,000 square miles and touches parts of South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas. Some estimates indicate the aquifer is rapidly depleting, and in 50 years, 70% of it will be diminished.


In Kansas, the Ogallala covers most of the western one-third of the state. It is estimated that 95% of groundwater pumped from the aquifer each year is for irrigated agriculture, though it also supports livestock and municipal needs. The aquifer supports approximately $35 billion in crop production. If water depletion in the aquifer continues, Kansas land values may drop by millions.

“One of the key values that I see to the Ogallala Aquifer Summit is the opportunity to hear from other states on the condition of the aquifer in their region, discuss shared challenges and learn ideas that may be adapted to Kansas in order to improve our water management,” said Susan Metzger, director of the Kansas Water Institute at Kansas State University.

Metzger added researchers and water specialists from each state in the Ogallala Aquifer region have prepared updates on their water management progress for the summit.

Topics include the following:

  • New opportunities with conservation-related legislation.
  • Understanding water risk as part of climate risk and economic risk.
  • Advances in science and data application.
  • The power of peer networks.
  • Workforce and leadership development

To see the full agenda, click here.

The summit is open to all interested. General registration is $150, and students are $75. More information is available by clicking here.



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2024-02-21 14:39:20

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