America’s Great Loss: The Depletion of the Ogallala

EarthzineSGS 2015

By Carlos Diego Paniagua, Juanita Calderón, Juan Guillermo Forero, Gabriela Garay, Juan Felipe Aristizábal, Valeria García
Editor’s note: This poster is one of three selected from projects done by senior students at St. George’s School in Bogotá, Colombia.
In the 1940s, the Ogallala Aquifer started to be accessed extensively for the agricultural sector. Since then, the area over the Ogallala has experienced an agricultural sprawl that now makes it as one of the most productive areas in the United States. However, now it is known that the Ogallala is a fossil aquifer. In other words, it was created from the accumulation of water thousands of years ago, which means it is a non-renewable resource. Satellite images corroborate this; the Ogallala is in a critical situation. From this, the following question was formulated: Can the Ogallala be used extensively for agricultural purposes in a sustainable way?
After intensive research, it is clear that it is not possible to use the aquifer on an industrial scale for an indefinite period of time. However, there are promising initiatives that attempt to reduce the use of water in the area without compromising productivity. Other studies reveal encouraging figures that suggest that reducing the use of water from the Ogallala could significantly extend its productive life.
Even though there are ongoing programs and mechanisms that seek the reduction of water from the aquifer, governmental policies reflect contradiction regarding the use of the Ogallala. This lack of action leaves an uncertain future for the aquifer. Immediate actions should be determined in order to prolong the lifetime of the Ogallala.
POSTER (11A-3)
Download the poster here