AP NEWS

Nebraska’s groundwater levels lower than average, still better than other High Plains states

April 2, 2018

LINCOLN - The latest survey of groundwater in Nebraska shows drought several years ago is still impacting water levels.

The 2017 Nebraska Statewide Groundwater-Level Monitoring Report from the Conservation and Survey Division at the University of Nebraska compared 5,200 wells from the spring of 2016 to spring 2017.

Aaron Young, survey geologist, says the High Plains Aquifer’s levels are below average.

“Over the last five-years, if you average out the water levels measured across the state, we’re still seeing about a two-foot decline,” Young tells Nebraska Radio Network. “That decline is still a result of, essentially, the drought we had in 2012.”

The report shows problem areas exist in the far-west portion of the state, due to heavy irrigation use.

When you look at present groundwater levels compared to pre-pumping levels, Young says the aquifer under Nebraska is down about a foot, which is better than other states.

“Texas is closer to 41 feet. For a place like Kansas, it’s 26 feet,” he explains. “So, as a whole, we’ve seen some declines, but we shouldn’t be panicking. We’re doing a very good job of managing our water.”

The report shows about half of the wells in the state saw levels decline over the 2016-17 monitoring period while half increased.

That ranges from increases of 10 feet in the northeast, to five-foot drops in the south-central part.