Winter Water Level Measurements

whitworth measuringEach December, High Plains Underground Water Conservation District field personnel make depth-to-water level measurements in a network of more than 1,200 privately-owned water wells within the district.  

The 2013 Winter Water Level Measurements, reflecting 2012 pumpage, is completed.

The observation well network is spaced at a density of about one well per nine square miles.

Information from the annual Winter Water Level measurement program provides district residents with the current status of water levels in the Ogallala Aquifer as well as average annual changes occurring during the past year, the past five years, and past 10 years.

The results of this measuring effort are published in The Cross Section each year.

 NEWView the May 2013 issue of The Cross Section (Winter Water Level Measurement Results).

 NEW: View a chart with the average changes in depth-to-water in feet during 2012 from observation well measurements in 2013. 

The first extensive water-level measuring effort in the region was conducted as part of the Federal Work Project Administration (WPA) in the late 1930s. Depth-to-water measurements were made in almost every well in each county in the High Plains. The results of these measurements were published in individual county reports. After the WPA work was completed, depth-to-water level measurements were made annually in a few wells by the U.S. Geological Survey or the State Board of Water Engineers until the creation of the Water District in 1951.

After that time, the District created its own measuring program, and by 1957, had taken over the federal and state water level measuring efforts in the counties it serves.

Municipal pumps that were tested reflected similar problems, and when repaired, the energy costs were significantly reduced.

In the early 1950s, people had the perception that the Ogallala Aquifer was a huge underground lake being fed (recharged) from snow melt from the Rocky Mountains in New Mexico and Colorado. There was considerable water waste since people believed that an aquifer held an unlimited water supply.

Historically, observation well data has been used to show water users that the water supply is indeed exhaustible and that if water waste continued (similar to that in the 1950s) the aquifer would be depleted before 1985. However, this has not occurred due to the development and acceptance of new water conservation practices within the district.