The Garber-Wellington Aquifer (also known as the Central Oklahoma Aquifer) covers about 3000 square miles of Central Oklahoma. This Aquifer is a major source of drinking water for the Oklahoma City urban area as well as surrounding agricultural and suburban areas. It is the major source of water used for industrial, commercial, agricultural, and municipal purposes.
The Structure Of The Aquifer
Major portions of the Garber-Wellington Aquifer are made of rocks that belong to the Garber Sandstone and Wellington layers. These layers were formed during the Lower Permian age (270 to 300 million years ago) when streams flowed through the area. These formations go down for about 1000 feet. Wells that tap into the Aquifer can find water between 100 to 350 feet down.
Home and landowner wells typically go down only 100 to 200 feet. Municipal wells tend to go down to 300 feet or further, where water flows are stronger and more reliable.
The Aquifer is replenished somewhat by natural rainwater at the upper levels. Water from streams and rivers is the main source of replenishment. In years of lower rainfall, replenishment rates plunge.
Concerns With Water Quality And Pumping Sustainability
All major communities in Central Oklahoma, with the exception of Oklahoma City, rely on water drawn from this aquifer for municipal water use. In addition, over 20,000 private wells tap into the Aquifer's depths. The increasing population in this part of the state is putting more and more pressure on the Aquifer's production levels and future.
A study released in 2014 by the U.S. Geological Survey in cooperation with the Oklahoma Water Resources Board indicates that the current rate of pumping is not sustainable for the long-term. The study found that wells averaged a 3.75-foot drop between the late 1980s and 2009. Taking that data and extrapolating it out to the future, the study indicates that current maximum pumping rates set by Oklahoma authorities could deplete the Aquifer in 41 years or less.
Contamination Concerns With The Aquifer
Nitrate contamination is a growing issue in shallower wells, while heavy metals like arsenic, chromium, and selenium are showing up in many wells of different depths. Other contaminates found in different parts of the Aquifer include nitrates, sulfates, and naturally occurring uranium.
The Garber-Wellington Aquifer is sustaining increased pressure by a growing urban and suburban population as well as a growing industrial and agricultural base. This stress is not sustainable and threatens the long-term availability of water for all those who call central Oklahoma home.
If you need to drill into the Aquifer or need some environmental drilling help in another area, give us a call at Talon/LPE Drilling Services. We serve our neighbors in Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico.