Aquifer Feeding Texas High Plains Rapidly Shrinks

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LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) - The chief underground water source for irrigating the agriculture-rich Texas High Plains is depleting at a pace some fear will exhaust it far more quickly than anticipated.

Records examined by the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal showed the Ogallala Aquifer has dropped about 325 billion gallons every year for at least the past four decades. That means the 40-foot decline in the water supply amounts to about a foot each year.

The records also show at least two Texas counties west of Lubbock - Parmer and Castro - have plunged 100 feet, more than double that amount.

A study last year showed the aquifer could run dry in 50 years, but at least one Texas Tech University research center estimates four Texas counties have less than 15 years before water for irrigation could run out.