The Ogallala aquifer, a vast store of underground water reserves extending from South Dakota through Texas, is the product of eons of accumulated glacial melts, ancient Rocky Mountain snow melts, and rainfall, all percolating slowly through gravel beds hundreds of feet thick. Irrigation from the aquifer has allowed the High Plains region to prosper, but without revolutionary changes in the management of this resource, the future may bring a return to subsistence conditions. Focusing on the Ogallala aquifer, John Opie vividly portrays the south-central plains--its natural resources, the history of settlement and dryland farming, and the remarkable irrigation technologies that have industrialized farming in the region. He recounts state and local attempts to manage and conserve groundwater and describes the operations, insights, hopes, and fragile future of several families farming on the High Plains. In doing so, he illustrates that the aquifer is not merely a local resource, nor simply a regional treasure: its influence is felt in farming, food, and foreign trade issues at the national and international levels.
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