09/05/2013 01:42 pm ET | Updated Nov 05, 2013

An Expert Explains the Maps of the Ogallala Aquifer of the Texas High Plains

Lubbock, TX - In this video, Lucia Barbato, of the Texas Tech University Center for Geospatial Technology, explains the various maps of the Texas High Plains region. The Ogallala Aquifer was formed millions of years ago, and no longer has an effective recharge capacity in this region. This finite, fossil water resource will one-day run dry.

The central question is this: taking into account the competing interests of the various stakeholders that depend upon the Ogallala Aquifer for their economic well-being, what can be done to effectively extend the life of the aquifer balanced against the short-term needs of area producers who require enough water to successfully grow and raise their crops and livestock. Ratcheting the stakes further, these producers must also contend with extended periods of drought conditions (2011 was an exceptional drought year; 2012 and 2013 were also drought years) that requires more irrigation water usage, not less. Average annual rainfall is 18 inches, 2011 produced only 5.86 inches for that year. But even when rainfall levels approach the average level, it's the distribution amounts, and the timing of when the rainfall actually occurs, that matters more. On a day-to day basis during the growing season, when temperatures and humidity levels are high -- and when precipitation levels are correspondingly low -- water irrigation needs go up.

To read the entire post, visit Cooking Up a Story. Watch the original documentary, Water Scarcity on the Texas High Plains: the Ogallala Aquifer.