Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

August 1993


Published in Great Plains Research 3:2 (August 1993). Copyright © 1993 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Used by permission.


This volume focuses on irrigation water use, specifically the history of groundwater development and use, i.e. its "exploitation," on the High Plains. Starting in the southern part of the High Plains in the 1930s groundwater irrigation moved rapidly northward through western Oklahoma, western Kansas and into much of Nebraska after World War II. Rocks of different ages in the High Plains comprise the aquifer popularly known as the Ogallala Aquifer but is more appropriately called the High Plains Aquifer by the U.S. Geological Survey. Depletion of the aquifer as indicated by water-level declines, greatest in the drier southern and western High Plains, has generated a lot of attention and local, regional, and national concern. Use and overuse of water as perceived by some has or will result in adverse socio-economic and environmental impacts. Several of the eleven authors of this book present a rather gloomy future for most of the High Plains. That prospect is tempered as other authors examine technological and management techniques that might significantly reduce adverse impacts.