GSA Annual Meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA - 2018

Paper No. 34-17
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-5:30 PM


QUINN, Libby G., Geology and Environmental Science, Wheaton College, 501 College Ave, Wheaton, IL 60187 and SMIDT, Samuel J., Soil and Water Sciences, University of Florida, 2181 McCarty Hall A, PO Box 110290, Gainesville, FL 32611

The water level of the High Plains Aquifer (HPA) continues to decline due to irrigation practices, leaving farmers in a dire situation; choosing to irrigate results in the depletion of the valuable water resource, and choosing to reduce irrigation results in lost current crop productivity.In this study, we analyzed key socio-agricultural system elements(e.g., market prices, groundwater legislation, and local management strategies) to identify predominate drivers to irrigation water use across the HPA. We collected county-level data in 2012 for each element and ran a linear regression model against aquifer groundwater levels to derive key correlations leading to groundwater decline. We found that the driving factors of groundwater decline include: total number of farms, acres of farmland, average farm size, total crop sales, largest crop commodity, average rainfall, per capita income, management district, recharge, and saturated thickness. According to our results, many of the variables tested do not significantly influence groundwater decline. These variables include: total population, population served by groundwater, and groundwater withdrawal type (fresh, saline, total, domestic). The results of this study may assist experts in focusing management plans and water use sustainability strategies across the HPAto extend the life of the aquifer.