The recent news out of Texas, “Ogallala Aquifer shrinking rapidly” (Aug. 12), is indeed troubling and not unexpected. The good news is that two-thirds of the Ogallala’s water is stored in Nebraska. And Nebraska on average has maintained nearly its entire historic water levels, despite appreciable drops in some areas.
We pump more groundwater than our neighbors. But Nebraska is benefiting from its early, aggressive approach to managing groundwater. Forty years ago, it established natural resources districts, unique in the nation, to manage groundwater. Research advances in agricultural technology, crop varieties and practices also help conserve water.
Many Nebraska farmers understand what’s needed. For example, at the University of Nebraska‒Lincoln, a large and growing collaborative network of researchers and farmers work together to conserve irrigation water and energy. Today, about 1,200 farmers participate, representing 1.7 million acres, in the Nebraska Agricultural Water Management Network.
The Sandhills also play an essential role. Sandy soils speed up replenishing the aquifer.
Water conservation requires economic sacrifices, but we’re seeing its benefits today. Nebraskans should feel proud of their efforts. But as the state becomes hotter and drier, it’s more important than ever for families, communities, industries and farmers to do more to conserve this vital resource.
Ronnie D. Green, vice president, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Nebraska; Roberto Lenton, founding executive director, Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Institute, NU; and Chittaranjan Ray, director, Nebraska Water Center