Water Productivity Journal (WPJ) Quarterly Publication

Document Type : Original Research Paper


1 Department of Water Resources Engineering, Sacramento, California, USA

2 Associate Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Prairie View A and M University, Prairie View, Texas, USA



Texas ranks third in the United States in both agricultural acres irrigated and irrigation water applied. Significant advances have been made in irrigation efficiency and water productivity.; however, some challenges remain. The agricultural sector responds to change, and farmers and ranchers have demonstrated resiliency by adapting to the changes in water supply, cost, and regulations. Projections in the 1970s suggested that the Ogallala Aquifer would be exhausted by the early 2000s, but the farmers responded by using newly developed efficient technologies, and the projection did not come true. Opportunities remain for continued improvements in water use efficiency, including: 1) Improving irrigation scheduling, 2) Adopting drought tolerant crop varieties, 3) Developing Improved Irrigation Water Management Technologies, 4) Continued Adoption of Conservation Practices and 5) Improving Irrigation Conveyance Systems. The sustainability of the Southern High Plains (SHP) region in Texas is heavily dependent on the groundwater production from Ogallala Aquifer for crop production. The case study presented here illuminates the existing potential for alternative groundwater sourcing from brackish form. The major aquifer, Ogallala Formation, overlies the minor Dockum Hydrostratigraphic Unit (Dockum-HSU) in much of the Texas Panhandle and West Texas. The brackish groundwater resources from Dockum-HSU can serve as an important alternative source of water to the rapidly depleting Ogallala aquifer. However, water quality and the aquifer physical properties can limit the direct use from the deep Dockum-HSU.


Main Subjects

Al-Gamal, S.A. (2020). The potential impacts of climate change on groundwater management in west Africa. Water Productivity (WPJ), 1(3): 65-78.
Allen, V.G., Baker, M.T., Segarra, E. and Brown, C.P. (2007). Integrated irrigated crop–livestock systems in dry climates. Agronomy Journal, 99(2): 346-360.
Bradley, R.G. and Kalaswad, S. (2003). Groundwater resources of the Dockum Aquifer in Texas. Texas Water Development Board, TX, USA.
Carlson, P.H. and Glasrud, B.A. (Eds.). (2014). West Texas: A History of the Giant Side of the State. University of Oklahoma Press, OK, USA.
Dieter, C.A., Maupin, M.A., Caldwell, R.R., Harris, M.A., Ivahnenko, T.I., Lovelace, J.K. and Linsey, K.S. (2018). Estimated use of water in the United States in 2015 (No. 1441). US Geological Survey, USA.
Galbraith, K. (2010). Panhandling for Water, The Texas Tribune, USA. https://www.texastribune.org/2010/06/17/howbad- is-the-ogallala-aquifers-decline-in-texas/
Hernandez, E.A. and Uddameri, V. (2015). Simulation-optimization model for water management in hydraulic fracturing operations. Hydrogeology Journal, 23(6): 1247-1265.
Hudak, P.F. (2016). Solute distribution in the Ogallala Aquifer, Texas: lithium, fluoride, nitrate, chloride and bromide. Carbonates and Evaporites, 31(4): 437-448.
Karim, A. (2018). A decision support framework for fit for purpose assessments in brackish groundwater units. (Doctoral dissertation) Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX, USA.
Karim, A., Gonzalez Cruz, M., Hernandez, E.A. and Uddameri, V. (2020). A GIS-based fit for the purpose assessment of brackish groundwater formations as an alternative to freshwater aquifers. Water, 12(8): 22-99.
McGuire, V.L. (2014). Water-level changes and change in water in storage in the High Plains aquifer, predevelopment to 2013 and 2011–13. U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2014–5218, 14 p, USA.
McGuire, V.L., Lund, K.D. and Densmore, B.K. (2012). Saturated thickness and water in storage in the High Plains aquifer, 2009, and water-level changes and changes in water in storage in the High Plains aquifer, 1980 to 1995, 1995 to 2000, 2000 to 2005, and 2005 to 2009. U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2012–5177, 28 p, USA.
Nativ, R. and Smith, D.A. (1987). Hydrogeology and geochemistry of the Ogallala aquifer, Southern High Plains. Journal of Hydrology, 91(3-4): 217-253.
PGCD. (2020). Annual Report, Panhandle Groundwater Conservation District. White Deer, TX, USA.
Rajan, N., Maas, S., Kellison, R., Dollar, M., Cui, S., Sharma, S. and Attia, A. (2015). Emitter Uniformity and Application Efficiency for Centre‐Pivot Irrigation Systems. Irrigation and Drainage, 64(3): 353-361.
Scanlon, B.R., Faunt, C.C., Longuevergne, L., Reedy, R.C., Alley, W.M., McGuire, V.L. and McMahon, P.B. (2012). Groundwater depletion and sustainability of irrigation in the US High Plains and Central Valley. Proceedings of the national academy of sciences, 109(24): 9320-9325.
TWDB. (2001). Texas Water Development Board Report 347 – Surveys of Irrigation in Texas. 1958, 1964, 1969, 1974, 1979, 1984, 1989, 1994 and 2000, TWDB, USA.
TWDB. (2011). Texas Water Development Board Report 378 – Irrigation Metering and Water Use Estimates: A Comparative Analysis. 1999-2007, TWDB, USA.
TWDB. (2012). Water for Texas – 2012 State Water Plan. Texas Water Development Board, TWDB, USA.
TWRI. (2012). Status and Trends of Irrigated Agriculture in Texas, Texas Water Resources Institute. TWRI Report EM-115, Texas A and M University, College Station, TX, USA.
Uddameri, V., Singaraju, S., Karim, A., Gowda, P., Bailey, R. and Schipanski, M. (2017a). Understanding Climate‐Hydrologic‐Human Interactions to Guide Groundwater Model Development for Southern High Plains. Journal of Contemporary Water Research and Education, 162(1): 79-99.
Uddameri, V., Karim, A., Hernandez, E.A. and Srivastava, P.K. (2017b). Sensitivity of wells in a large groundwater monitoring network and its evaluation using grace satellite derived information. In Sensitivity Analysis in Earth Observation Modelling (pp. 235-256). Elsevier.
Uddameri, V. and Reible, D. (2018). Food‐energy‐ water nexus to mitigate sustainability challenges in a groundwater reliant agriculturally dominant environment (GRADE). Environmental Progress & Sustainable Energy, 37(1): 21-36.
USDA-NASS. (2008). 2007 Census of Agriculture: 2008 Farm and Ranch Irrigation Survey. USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service.
USDA-NASS. (2017). United States Department of Agriculture– USDA National Agricultural Statistics. USA. https://nassgeodata.gmu.edu/CropScape/