2022 measurements show groundwater level declines in High Plains Water District

Published: Mar. 31, 2022 at 9:50 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - The High Plains Underground Water Conservation District has finished its water level measurements for 2022, which show an average decline of -0.63 feet of the Ogallala/Edwards-Trinity Aquifer over the previous year.

“The knowledge of how the water level changes from year to year is important because, of course, people here in Texas own groundwater,” District Manager Jason Coleman said. “Their ability to understand the variability and change from year to year, based on the patterns of use and all, is a key part of monitoring what they own. It’s also a key part of a conservation message and monitoring the trends of changing water levels, as people make plans from year to year, and possibly longer-term plans, understanding how water levels change in a particular area of the water district.”

The HPWD field technicians measured 1,333 wells in early 2022 across the 16-county district. The program also revealed the saturated thickness of the Ogallala and Edwards-Trinity to have declined to an average of 53 feet from the 54-foot measurement in 2021.

"Because of the variability in the thickness of the aquifer, that is a reason to look in a bit closer to your area of interest to make some determination about what that magnitude of change means to you personally," Coleman said. “The variability of change we see across the water district has, over the last several years, looked anything like a decline of five or more feet to, in some cases, a rise of close to five feet. There are an increasing number of wells, we have shown in a recent analysis, that fall into the area that did come up some. Each county in the water district has had at least a couple of observation wells, each of the last several years, that does show some rise in water levels.”

Lubbock and Armstrong Counties were the only ones with an average water level rise. Lubbock County experienced a maximum water level rise of 5.25 feet in one of its observation wells.

"People are discontinuing, perhaps, using water from certain areas of the district for irrigated farming," Coleman said. "Perhaps, cutting back on the number of acres that are irrigated to try to match the capacity of the wells and that sort of thing."

In an observation well, Castro County experienced an average of nearly two feet of water-level decline and a maximum decline of more than nine feet.

“As people look at their reliance on groundwater, whether it’s for their home, whether it’s for their business or whatever nature, they need to know, and we hope to provide knowledge and awareness of what the trend is in that area, how much is there, and does that meet either the near term or the long term need?”

The HPWD provides the 2022 water levels and historical data on an interactive map. The water level, aquifer saturation, and other information are free for the public to use.

“We do want folks to be aware to make good decisions about that groundwater and its potential longevity at a particular location,” Coleman said. “We think that we have the type of data that can help people in that analysis.”

To find the map, click here.

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