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Depletion of the High Plains Aquifer (paper 5) - Essay Example

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Zachary Bryla Miss Allen ENGL 1010 April 24, 2013 Depletion of the High Plains Aquifer The depletion of the high plains aquifer, often referred to as the Ogallala aquifer, poses a significant threat to society. This Aquifer underlies Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Nebraska, Wyoming, South Dakota, and Kansas, covering a total of 174,000squared miles (McGuire)…
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Depletion of the High Plains Aquifer (paper 5)
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Download file to see previous pages In America there is an adequate amount of agricultural land to, for the most part, sustain our population. Gutentag’s observations indicate that the farmers of this agricultural land in turn rely heavily on whatever water resources they can exploit to bolster production. Irrigation is the major issue causing a depletion of the water table in this region, posing a major threat to the Ogallala aquifer (Gutentag). The recharge is considered a factor of interest in this paper. Cities located on the aquifer will also be considered as possible factors. This paper will examine the origin of the Ogallala aquifer, its depletion, consequences of this depletion and the possible measures which can be taken to curb its depletion. Besides, I will also address the counterarguments to this depletion. Before evaluating whether depletion in aquifers is anthropogenic or natural it would benefit to address where the ground water came from. Multiple factors play the contributory role in the establishment of underground water among which are glacial melt, underground water movement through infiltration and percolation (MacNeill; McDermott &. Horne).“Glaciers account for more than scenic alpine landscapes. Glacial deposits form fertile soils in the Unites States and southern Canada and many ground-water aquifers”(Smith 438). 21,000 years ago a massive glacier covered most of the United States. As this glacier receded to what now is the glacier covering Greenland, it ground the surface rock, creating fertile soil in its wake as well as saturating the aquifers below. Since then there has been small amounts of recharge from rain and snow absorption, but the vast majority was accumulated from the last ice age (Hutson, Barber, Kenny, Linsey, Lumia, and Maupin). During the thawing process, when the snow water melts, some melt water find their way to the underground channels though the soil pores and rock joints. This seeping water upon reaching the aquifer often settle in this region to form the underground punk. Besides, the glacial moraine forms fertile grounds for agricultural practices, a common phenomenon which ushered in the south west region after the universal glacial recession, the geologic ice age, about 250- 350 million years ago. The presence of fertile soil and convenient access to groundwater below the surface has created an agricultural oasis in the Midwest, but the many straws stuck into the aquifer are draining it at an alarming rate. Ground water in aquifers is typically discharged through natural and anthropogenic means. “Permanently flowing streams intersect the water table and gain discharge from ground water flow. Streams not in contact with the water table are dry during periods of limited rainfall. When streams above the water table receives runoff, some of the flow is lost to ground water through infiltration through the bed” (Smith 418). In nature, without anthropogenic effects, an individual would note that Aquifers are constantly ‘full’, giving off whatever rainfall or snowmelt acquired in the form of discharge into local streams. This is almost never the case currently, due to the result of the anthropogenic effect on the aquifers. As humans have tapped into the aquifers, they have dropped ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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