The role of groundwater production alternative on water productivity in the southern high plains region of Texas, USA

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

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