Interesting Statistics of the Ogallala Aquifer and High Plains Region

  1. It is the largest groundwater system in North America.2
  2. Its 3.3 billion acre feet* of fresh water would fill Lake Huron with enough water remaining to fill one-fifth of Lake Ontario.1
  3. If pumped out over the United States, the aquifer would cover all 50 states with one and ½ feet of water.1
  4. If completely drained, it would take more than 6,000 years to refill.2
  5. Over 170,000 wells pump from the aquifer, one for every square mile.1
  6. Over 50,000 of these wells are in Northwest Texas.2
  7. More than 90% of the water pumped is used to irrigate crops, and withdrawals equal 30% of the total groundwater used for irrigation in the U.S.2
  8. From 1940's to 1980, the aquifer's average water level declined nearly 10 ft. a year.2
  9. The aquifer is directly responsible for $20 billion a year in food and fiber production.2
  10. Texas can produce 2 million more bales of cotton a year because of the aquifer.2
  11. The Texas High Plains accounts for 34% of the state's total cropland and 69% of the total irrigated cropland.3
  12. Cotton, wheat, and grain sorghum are the most significant Texas crops grown in the region.3
  13. The aquifer covers 35,000 square miles in Texas (11% of state's lands).3
  14. Mean precipitation range of 14-22 inches for Texas High Plains.3
  15. Average saturated thickness in the Texas region of 112 ft with a range of 3-500 ft.3

* An acre foot of groundwater is enough to cover an acre of land with one foot of water (~326,000 gallons).1

1 EPA Journal (Lewis)

2 National Geographic (Zwingle)

3 Groundwater Exploitation in the High Plains (Urban)