Groundwater: What Can The Golf Course Industry Do to Protect This Valuable Natural Resource?
The Ogallala Aquifer, also known as the High Plains Aquifer, is a vast yet shallow underground water table aquifer located beneath the Great Plains in the United States. One of the world's largest aquifers, it lies under about 174,000 square miles in portions of the eight states of South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Texas. It was named in 1899 by N.H. Darton from its type locality near the town of Ogallala, Nebraska. It waters one fifth of U.S. irrigated land.
In some parts of the Ogallala Aquifer that stretches across eight states in the Great Plains, aquifer depletion has caused increased pumping costs and decreased land values, forcing some farmers into bankruptcy. The Ogallala Aquifer is being depleted at a rate of 12 billion cubic meters per year. Some estimates say it will dry up in as little as 25 years. Many farmers in the Texas High Plains, which rely particularly on the underground source, are now turning away from irrigated agriculture as they become aware of the hazards of over pumping. Golf courses in this region are facing a big problem in this region. If the aquifer is dwindling and the cities in the south are turning into dust bowls, there will be no water for golf courses to water new grasses and already existing grasses properly.
The aquifer's water quality is very poor. Industrial agriculture with its reliance on chemicals and its failure to adequately address soil erosion problems is guilty of depleting water resources. Ignorance and carelessness are in fact the main factors behind the increasing water quality deterioration. First, of course, any further ground water has to be pumped from deeper and deeper levels, and such water is not only more expensive to extract in terms of deeper wells and more powerful pumps, but is more likely to be chemically poor in quality. Second, the drop in the water...
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