Agriculture Built High Plains Towns. Now, it Might Run Them Dry.

As the Ogallala Aquifer dwindles, rural towns try to keep their sole water source.

MOSCOW, Kansas — Brownie Wilson pulls off a remote dirt road right through a steep ditch and onto a farmer’s field.

He hops out of his white Silverado pickup, mud covering nearly all of it except the Kansas Geological Survey logo stuck on the side with electrical tape. Dry cornstalks crunch under his work boots as he makes his way to a decommissioned irrigation well.

He unspools a steel highway tape measure a few feet at a time and feeds it into the well until gravity takes over. He keeps a thumb on it to control the speed.

How much of the tape comes out wet lets him calculate how much water has been lost here.

Wilson crisscrosses western Kansas every January to measure wells and track the rapid decline of the Ogallala Aquifer, which contains the nation’s largest underground store of fresh water.

Last year, some wells had dropped 10 feet or more because of the severe 2022 drought. But this year, they stayed about the same or dropped a couple feet. Some of these wells have dropped more than 100 feet since Wilson started working for the agency in 2001, he said. MORE

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Callicrate comment: Are we going to be so foolish as to let this precious resource run out?