Saturated Thickness in the Ogallala Aquifer in the Panhandle Water Planning Area—Simulation of 2000 through 2050 Withdrawal Projections

Abstract

The Ogallala aquifer is one of Texas' major aquifer systems. This study focused on the part of the Ogallala aquifer that underlies 18 of the 21 counties of the Panhandle Water Planning Area (PWPA). In the past 50 years, water-level drawdown in parts of the unconfined aquifer has been as much as 190 ft, or about 4 ft/yr. Pumping rates for the next 50 years, to 2050, have been projected to be greater than previous rates, and additional drawdown is possible. A numerical, or computer, model of the occurrence and movement of groundwater in the Ogallala aquifer was recalibrated to improve predictions of future water-level changes. Model development was part of a statewide process of developing regional water plans under Senate Bill 1, 75th Texas Legislative Session. This model improved on previous models by (1) covering the Ogallala aquifer within most of each county in the PWPA with detailed resolution, (2) using spatially controlled geologic and hydrologic data as much as possible, and (3) placing the model edges so as to minimize their effects on the area of interest in Texas. The model was recalibrated during the present study to improve the match between simulated and observed water levels in Dallam, Roberts, and Donley Counties. The model is intended to be used as a tool to assess surpluses and deficits in aquifer resources and to evaluate water-management strategies that might address water needs.

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