Thread: Water security
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Old 2021-09-10, 14:49   #116
Dr Sardonicus
 
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Farmers restore native grasslands as groundwater disappears
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MULESHOE, Texas (AP) - Tim Black's cell phone dings, signaling the time to reverse sprinklers spitting water across a pie-shaped section of grass that will provide pasture for his cattle.

It's important not to waste a drop. His family's future depends on it.

For decades, the Texas Panhandle was green with cotton, corn and wheat. Wells drew a thousand gallons (3,785 liters) a minute from the seemingly bottomless Ogallala aquifer, allowing farmers to thrive despite frequent dry spells and summer heat.

But now farmers face a difficult reckoning. Groundwater that sustained livelihoods for generations is disappearing, which has created another problem across the southern plains: When there isn't enough rain or groundwater to germinate crops, soil can blow away — just as it did during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s.

"We wasted the hell out of the water," says Black, recalling how farmers irrigated when he was a kid — as if it would last forever. Water flooded furrows or sprayed in high arcs before farmers adopted more efficient center-pivot systems that gave the Southwest its polka-dot landscape.

His grandfather could reach water with a post-hole digger. Now, Black is lucky to draw 50 gallons (189 liters) a minute from high-pressure wells, some almost 400 feet (122 meters) deep. He buys bottled water for his family because the well water is salty.
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