Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Fall 1999


Published in Great Plains Research 9: (Fall 1999). Copyright © 1999 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Used by permission.


The old photographs of flowing wells and well-digging operations in The Groundwater Atlas of Nebraska remind us that access to water has always been the key to survival in the subhumid to semiarid Great Plains. And with this new publication, it is easy to see the importance of groundwater to Nebraskans and why the bold statement is made that Nebraska should be dubbed the Groundwater State.

Unfortunately, the atlas starts out with a somewhat fragmented and cursory overview of the hydrologic cycle in Nebraska, highlighting the relationship between groundwater and surface water and the importance of .groundwater discharge to streamflow. On average, we are told, the surface water outflow from the eastern end of the state is more than four times the surface water inflow at the western end. Other facets of the hydrologic cycle, including average precipitation, evapotranspiration, and pumpage are mentioned but not placed in the context of the statewide water budget. Doing so would help put the greater than fourfold increase in streamflow across the state in perspective.