GSA Connects 2021 in Portland, Oregon

Paper No. 209-10
Presentation Time: 10:30 AM


DOWELL, Bradley1, COX, Mark2, MCDERMITT, Dayle K.3, NOVAK-HARSCH, Amy4, TILLER, Billy2 and HAACKER, Erin M.K.1, (1)Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE 68588, (2)Grower Information Services Cooperative, Lubbock, TX 79409, (3)Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Daugherty Water for Food Institute, Lincoln, NE 68588; Nebraska Water Balance Alliance, Lincoln, NE 68508, (4)Grower Information Services Cooperative, Lubbock, TX 79409; Nebraska Water Balance Alliance, Lincoln, NE 68508

Irrigation on the High Plains (Ogallala) Aquifer has increasingly been used to meet agricultural water demands. Many regions across the aquifer region are experiencing unsustainable groundwater level declines and resource stress due to increasing human influence on the hydrogeologic system, posing challenges for sustaining future agricultural economies and groundwater resources. Thus, finding novel ways of measuring real-time water delivery to crops can provide useful information to farmers and watershed managers balancing economic, sustainability, and governance decisions. This study uses electrical data gathered in 15-minute time intervals on 10 center pivot agricultural production wells in western Nebraska to estimate water delivery to the crops over the growing season. Water delivery estimated using an electrical run-time algorithm and well flow test results is compared against water delivery measured with calibrated flow meters placed on four of the production wells. Aquifer water levels are measured immediately adjacent to four of the 10 wells to estimate how changes in water level at the wells may impact results. In addition, aquifer water levels are measured at two monitoring sites remote from production wells to follow larger scale aquifer changes over the growing season. We then discuss the accuracy of estimating water delivery from the electrical run-time algorithm based upon preliminary first year data and present our results within the context of hydrogeologic modeling in the aquifer region. This novel data approach takes advantage of reliable and cost-effective data gathering across the rural power smart grid and may provide extra information to understand hydrogeologic systems in heavily irrigated areas—supporting well informed and economic use of water resources.