Water getting harder to reach

No one at Amarillo City Hall has yet imposed any mandatory water-use restrictions on those of us who need to use it.

Maybe the time is coming sooner than many of us think.

The Texas Tribune is reporting a significant drop in the water levels of the Ogallala Aquifer that flows under our feet.


The Tribune noted this: “The vast majority of Texas is enduring a drought, but the Panhandle has been especially hard hit, causing farmers to pump more water to make up for the lack of rain. That depletes the amount of water stored in the aquifer over the long term, which means future generations will find less water to pump to grow crops.”

Irrigated agriculture accounts for more than 90 percent of all water consumed in the Panhandle, so perhaps the target of these conservation measures ought to be someone other than city folks who like to keep their lawns green and their cars clean.

Amarillo has been investing heavily in purchasing water rights. The city figures it has enough water for the next, oh, century or two. But given that we don’t tend to think strategically beyond the next generation, the outlook seems satisfactory.

The findings suggest “thick” bands of water, such as between Plainview and Clovis, N.M., where farmers can keep irrigating. Other areas reveal thinner bands of water that might force irrigated farmland to become dry. The nature of the drought that has plagued the region in recent years, well, that may spell doom for many food producers.

I’m no water planner and I depend on a lot of folks with intimate knowledge of this issue to keep me informed.

Something tells me, though, that when the water level registers as significant a drop in the past year as it has under the Panhandle, someone ought to start drawing up mandatory measures to slow it down.

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