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5/20/2016 by mdc
Sarah Rafique reports that HPWD measures 1,400 wells annually in a 16-county service area to monitor groundwater levels. And, for the first time in more than 10 years, overall water levels are up in the Ogallala and Edwards-Trinity aquifers, according to data released in April by HPWD. The increase reflects the previous year pumpage.

Before this year annual water level increase, the last time groundwater levels were up was in 2004, when there was an increase of 0.74 inches, reflecting pumpage in 2013, McCain said. This data shows Floyd County had the highest gain with a 16.64-foot increase in water levels, while Castro County had the lowest, with a 5.77-foot decrease. Castro County 10-year average shows a decrease of 21 feet, so it is not unusual it has the worst decrease.

It is believed that the ... increase in Floyd County is due to the fact that timely rainfall and snow kept playa basins full for a longer period of time, McCain said. Playas are thought to be the primary focal recharge points for the Ogallala Aquifer in the Southern High Plains of Texas. The 10-year district average change is a decrease of 9.29 feet and the five-year average is a decrease of 5.94 feet.

The goal of the project is to help producers determine ways that they can pump less water from the Ogallala and still be economically viable, he said. Kellison said the biggest usage of water through the Ogallala is agricultural use, but the groundwater supply recharges at a slower rate than consumption, which means that groundwater has been mined for decades but conditions within the aquifers could be improving due in part to better management of the resources. Future monitoring will tell us if this is true or not.

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