USDA expands investment in Ogallala Aquifer

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will invest $8 million in the Ogallala Aquifer Initiative in fiscal year 2016, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced yesterday.

The investment will help farmers in the area of the Ogallala Aquifer conserve billions of gallons of water which is needed as the eight-state aquifer has suffered from extreme drought in recent years. The aquifer is the largest in the United States and includes the majority of Nebraska, parts of Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas and Wyoming. Nearly 30 percent of all water used for irrigation in the United States comes from the Ogallala Aquifer.

"USDA's Ogallala Aquifer Initiative helps landowners build resilience in their farms and ranches and better manage water use in this thirsty region," Vilsack said. "Since 2011, USDA has invested $74 million in helping more than 1,600 agricultural producers conserve water on 341,000 acres through this initiative."

The two areas of the aquifer that will see a renewed focus are the Middle Republican Natural Resource District in Nebraska and the Oklahoma Ogallala Aquifer Initiative.

The Nebraska project will focus on the quantity and quality of the groundwater, especially in areas of more than 48 percent aquifer depletion rates. The Oklahoma project will focus on education on water conservation and conservation systems, especially in heavily populated areas.

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United States Department of Agriculture

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