Annual depth-to-water level measurements made by the High Plains Underground Water Conservation District No. 1 during the early part of 2004 show an average decline of 1.34 feet in the ground water levels of the Ogallala Aquifer during 2003 within the district's 6.8-million-acre service area. The average decline increased a modest 0.28 of a foot as compared to the previous year.

“Most of the High Plains Water District service area received below-average precipitation in 2003. Consequently, district staff expected the annual depth-to-water level measurements to reveal a greater decline in ground water levels within our 15-county service area,” said Jim Conkwright, district manager. He added that the energy costs to pump water, along with the large amount of acreage lost to hail last year, may have contributed to the less than anticipated decline in ground water levels for the 2003 pumping season.

The district 10-year average annual change decreased from -1.31 feet for the 2003 report to -1.28 feet for the current report. The district five-year average annual change decreased from -1.18 feet for the 2003 report to -1.03 feet for the current report. The district average annual change for 2003 to 2004 increased from -1.06 feet to the current value of -1.34 feet.

Bailey, Cochran, Hale, Lynn, and Parmer counties, and the portions of Castro, Floyd, Hockley, and Lamb counties within the water district recorded average water-level declines of more than one foot.

Lubbock County and the portions of Crosby, Deaf Smith, and Randall counties within the district recorded an average decline in water levels of less than one foot. The portions of Armstrong and Potter counties within the district revealed average rises in water levels of less than one foot.

“We wish to express our gratitude to the well owners and/or operators who allow their wells to be designated as observation wells and who let our employees enter their property annually to measure depths-to-water in these wells,” said Don McReynolds, geologist/technical division director. “These water level data are necessary to document changing ground water conditions within the district area.”

District employees Beau Henderson, Arnold Husky, Clint Kaufman, Don McReynolds, Judy Reeves, Dan Seale, and Keith Whitworth made measurements in the network of more than 1,200 privately-owned water wells within the district service area. These wells are part of the state observation well network maintained by the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) in Austin. Wells located within the water district are measured and maintained by district personnel. The collected water-level data are shared with the TWDB.

Measuring period

Depth-to-water level measurements are normally made during January to March each year to allow stabilization of water levels in the aquifer following pumpage during the previous year of ground water production.

The current issue of the High Plains Water District newsletter, The Cross Section, features the results of the annual 2003 depth-to-water level measurements. It contains individual county maps, which provide the approximate location of each well in the district's observation well network. Each map is accompanied by available 1994, 1999, 2003, and 2004 depth-to-water level measurements for individual wells in that county. Also listed are available total changes in water levels for each well for the periods 1994 to 2004, 1999 to 2004, and 2003 to 2004.

More information about the annual depth-to-water level measurement program is available by contacting the High Plains Underground Water Conservation District No. 1 at (806) 762- 0181.