10 Aug '12, 4pm

The pool of water under the Midwest is being sucked dry. The drought is making it worse.

The pool of water under the Midwest is being sucked dry. The drought is making it worse.

Even in good years, farmers in the Midwest supplement rainfall with irrigation from the Ogallala Aquifer . The map below shows irrigated areas in blue; the darker the color, the heavier the irrigation. That big, dark patch in the middle, to the left of the little icon, is irrigated by both surface water and water from the Ogallala and other aquifers in the High Plains system. Image courtesy of ESRI . The Ogallala spreads across 174,000 square miles, providing drinking water and irrigation to a huge swath of the United States, replenished slowly by rainfall in the region. It’s a critically important resource, which is why it’s been a big part of the Keystone XL fight — if it’s polluted by tar-sands oil, the damage could be catastrophic. The Ogallala and other aquifers around the globe are also threatened by overuse. According to research published this week in Nature , “abo...

Full article: http://grist.org/news/the-pool-of-water-under-the-midwest...

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