Submitted to: American Geophysical Union
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/10/2010
Publication Date: 12/16/2010
Citation: Hernandez, J.E., Gowda, P., Howell, T.A., Marek, T.H., Ha, W., Almas, L.K. 2010. Evaluation of Four Water Management Policies for Ogallala Aquifer Sustainbility in the Texas High Plains [abstract]. American Geophysical Union Meeting, December 13-17, 2010, San Francisco, California. Paper No. H11L-0931. Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: Diminishing groundwater supply in the Ogallala Aquifer will severely reduce regional crop and animal production in the absence of a sustainable water management policy. It is essential to mitigate adverse impacts on the regional economy due to future withdrawals of the limited groundwater resource. Currently, approximately ten alternative water management policies are being debated by policy makers in the Central and Southern High Plains of the Ogallala Aquifer region. Before implementing any new policy or modifying current policies, newer alternative policies should be evaluated for their impact on groundwater levels with eventual extension to regional economic impacts. The main objective of this study was to evaluate four water management policies, from the debated ones, on future groundwater levels in the Ogallala Aquifer beneath four heavily irrigated counties (Dallam, Sherman, Hartley, and Moore) located in the northwest corner of the Texas High Plains using a calibrated ModFlow model. The four water management policies were (1) voluntary permanent conversion to dry land production up to 10% of the total irrigated area, (2) adoption of advances in biotechnology that allow water use reductions at a rate of 1% per year up to 10% of current use, (3) mandatory water use reduction to decrease the total water pumped by 10% (volume per unit land area per year), and (4) voluntary temporary conversion to dry land production during 15 years for a maximum area of 10% of the total irrigated area. The water management policies were converted into water demand rates for ModFlow model inputs. Simulations were conducted for a 50-year (2010-2060) period. Preliminary results indicate that a combination of more than one policy will be required to produce a significant reduction in the current groundwater depletion rates.