Water level measurements indicate average decline of -1.05 feet within HPWD service area in 2018-2019

An average change of -1.05 feet was noted in the groundwater levels of the Ogallala/Edwards-Trinity (High Plains) Aquifer from 2018 to 2019 within the 16-county High Plains Underground Water Conservation District (HPWD).
The 10-year District average change (2009-2019) is -8.83 feet while the five-year District average change (2014-2019) is -2.13 feet. The average saturated thickness of the Ogallala/Edwards-Trinity (High Plains) Aquifer within the District is 56 feet (2018-2019). It remained unchanged from last year.
HPWD staff shared final results of the 2019 water level measurements with the District’s five-member Board of Directors at their April 9 meeting.
Beginning in January, HPWD field personnel made water level measurements in a network of 1,356 privately-owned water wells completed into the Ogallala/Edwards-Trinity (High Plains) Aquifer. In addition, measurements were also made in 31 Dockum Aquifer wells.
County wide average declines were recorded in 15 of the 16 counties in the District since the 2018 measurements.
“This can probably be attributed to the fact that the area received about half the rainfall in 2018 as it did in 2017. A large amount of irrigation was needed up until the time that it rained toward the end of the growing season,” said HPWD Field Technician Supervisor Keith Whitworth.
Whitworth shared the following statistics for observation wells with publishable measurements.

  • 234 observation wells with increases ranging from 0.1 to 5.41 feet.

  • 518 observation wells with decreases ranging from 0 to -.99 of a foot.

  • 279 observation wells with decreases ranging from – 1 to -1.99 feet.

  • 173 observation wells with decreases ranging from -2 to -2.99 feet.

  • 58 observation wells with decreases ranging from -3 to -3.99 feet.

  • 26 observation wells with decreases ranging from -4 to -4.99 feet.

  • 29 observation wells with decreases ranging from -5 to -12.98 feet.  

“Each year, there are wells that show water level rises and others that show water level declines. The largest water level rise was 5.41 feet in a Lynn County well and the largest water level decline was -12.98 feet in a Floyd County well,” Whitworth said. “Groundwater recharge occurs quickly in Lynn County due to sandier soils and a shallow water table. The area in Floyd County where the large decline is shown takes much longer to recover from the previous irrigation season,” he said.
Results of the 2019 water level measurements and updated saturated thickness information are now available on the interactive map on the HPWD website (map.hpwd.org).  Those who want printed information should contact Jed Leibbrandt at (806) 762-0181 or email him at jed.leibbrandt@hpwd.org. He can provide print copies of water level measurement data for an individual county or specific counties of interest.

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HPWD enrolling for 2019 Irrigation Assessment Program

High Plains Underground Water Conservation District is now enrolling producers for participation in its 2019 Irrigation Assessment Program.

Since the program's reinstatement in 2013, cooperating producers have volunteered to have their center pivot or subsurface drip irrigation system evaluated by HPWD staff. Water levels in wells are measured at the beginning and end of the growing season. In addition, flow rates of the wells/irrigation systems are checked with an ultrasonic flow meter. This service is provided by HPWD at no cost to willing participants.

The pumping hours, total gallons of water per minute, and the number of irrigated acres are calculated to determine the total acre-inches of groundwater applied during the growing season. Rainfall totals are determined through the use of radar estimates from April to September. This gives an estimate of the total inches of water available for plant use.

Water samples are also collected as an extra service to those participating in the program. HPWD is able to check Total Dissolved Solids (TDS), chloride, and pH levels of groundwater. It is important to understand water chemistry since it impacts the efficient use of supplemental nutrients applied to crops.

All this information is used to better understand the groundwater conditions in aquifers within the HPWD service area.

For example, the 2018 program participants' well data reveals an average depth-to-water of 225 feet and an average flow rate of 108 gallons per minute. The average amount of irrigation water applied in 2018 by program participants was 15.2 inches for corn, 15 inches for silage, 11.3 inches for cotton, and 5.7 inches for wheat.

All information gathered from each site is shared with program participants. Several producers have said the data has helped them better understand their irrigation system's performance.

"High Plains Water District encourages all interested producers to participate in the 2019 Irrigation Assessment Program. There are two major benefits. First, it helps farmers understand how much water is used per year for crop production. Second, it provides beneficial data for future water planning efforts where accurate irrigation pumping information must be considered," Whitworth said.