It lies deep beneath the rich Kansas soil. Homes, businesses and farms in more than 40 counties in the state are built above it. It spans more than 30,000 square miles across western Kansas. It is the source of valuable water for millions of people.
It is the High Plains Aquifer of Kansas — and it is one of the country’s most valuable natural resources.
Why Is This Aquifer So Important?
As a whole, the High Plains Aquifer’s importance transcends Kansas state lines. The entire water system runs under eight states, from the northern edge of Texas through the Heartland and into the southern part of South Dakota. It’s one of several important underground water sources in the country — and it’s the largest.
What makes the High Plains Aquifer so magnificent is the vast amount of water it holds — hundreds of millions of gallons — and much of that is found beneath the Kansas soil. More than 70 percent of the people who live in Kansas get their drinking water from the aquifer. Cities, private wells and even bottled water companies tap it as a source of life, sustenance and income. In addition, manufacturers and agriculture companies use its water to bring life to innovation and crops.
Is The Aquifer In Danger?
There is no other source of water in the region as important — or in as much danger.
When it was first discovered, the High Plains Aquifer of Kansas was viewed as an unlimited natural resource, able to meet the seemingly insatiable needs of individuals and industries.
However, as society’s thirst for fresh water has increased, the ability of the High Plains Aquifer to meet demand has diminished.
Today, experts are concerned the aquifer may soon run dry. Today, it is clear that the amount of water in the aquifer is finite, and if society doesn’t make the difficult decision to change its water-consumption habits, they may not have a choice at all. Some say current consumption rates could dry out the aquifer in 200 years. Others say it could happen as soon as 50 years from now.
What’s Being Done To Protect This Resource?
Either way, one thing is clear, the High Plains Aquifer of Kansas is too valuable a natural resource to risk — so steps are being taken to protect it:
- Under Kansas law, water is a public natural resource dedicated to the people of the state. Individuals, companies and government agencies must seek permission to use water for their own benefit.
- Irrigation companies, well aware of the challenges, are taking steps to improve the water efficiency of their products.
- Environmental drilling firms are leading the charge in protecting the aquifer.