Skip to main content
ARS Home » Plains Area » Bushland, Texas » Conservation and Production Research Laboratory » Soil and Water Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #310349

Title: Water supply and needs for West Texas

item Brauer, David

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/18/2014
Publication Date: 6/23/2014
Citation: Brauer, D.K. 2014. Water supply and needs for West Texas [abstract]. 2nd Lone Star Water Summit. Program Booklet Page No. 2.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: This presentation focused on the water supplies and needs of West Texas, Texas High Plains. Groundwater is the most commonly used water resources on the Texas High Plains, with withdrawals from the Ogallala Aquifer dominating. The saturation thickness of the Ogallala Aquifer in Texas is such that two-thirds of the groundwater is located in the one-third of the surface area of Texas High Plains north of the Canadian River. Significant depletion of the groundwater has been observed, especially in areas with abundant irrigation south of the Canadian River. Analyses of agricultural census data indicate that the agricultural economies of areas in the vicinity of Lubbock and further south are particularly vulnerable to decreases in water availability for irrigation because of the lack of beef feedlots and dairies which tend to generate a greater economic return per unit of water used. Using data from the Conservation and Production Research Laboratory (Bushland, Texas), changes in static water levels in wells corresponded to only half of the water used as recorded by meters. These results combined with those from an observation well located just south of the laboratory support the hypothesis that considerable water is flow from adjoining non- irrigated areas to compensate for withdrawals. Results were presented from a modeling project that support the hypothesis that decreases from 1990 to 2009 in water storage in Lake Meredith, an important municipal water supply, were associated with changes in rainfall. Water losses from Lake Alan Henry, a municipal water source for Lubbock, during the drought years of 2011 and 2012 were compared to estimates of evapotranspiration losses as calculated by different models. None of these models adequately accounted for storage losses over a range of values, indicating the difficulties in accurately constructing water budget for large reservoirs in the region. Currently the region is experiencing challenges matching its water supply to demands, and this challenge may be exuberated by drought and/or climate change.