Report Reveals Rises in Nebraska Groundwater Levels after Multiple Years of Decline

The 2015 Nebraska Statewide Groundwater-Level Monitoring Report reveals that much of the state is beginning to recover from the 2012-2013 drought.

From the spring of 2014 to the spring of 2015, water levels began to rise following significant declines resulting from extended period of drought from early 2012 through the summer of 2013.

Above normal precipitation for much of Nebraska combined with better water use practices accounted for the rises in water levels. The average water level increase from spring 2014 to spring 2015 was 0.53 feet. Although these one-year rises are good, many parts of the state remain below 2012 levels. Eastern Nebraska saw some of the largest rises in groundwater levels, with some wells recording rises of ten to fifteen feet. Rises in these areas are the result of above average precipitation and reduced need for irrigation pumping. Other notable areas of groundwater level rises of one to more than 10 feet occurred in the central Panhandle, Perkins, Custer and Dawson counties, in addition to localized areas throughout the state.

These maps represent conditions as of late March and Early April 2015, and do not take into account some of the record setting precipitation events that occurred in eastern Nebraska in spring and summer 2015. It is expected that in spring 2016 we will see water levels rise throughout much of Nebraska as we did in spring 2015, particularly in eastern Nebraska where flooding was common.

Groundwater-level monitoring began in Nebraska in 1930. The annual reports and maps have been produced by the Conservation and Survey Division in the School of Natural Resources at UNL since the 1950s.

Statewide groundwater-level monitoring reports depict the change in water levels from spring to spring at different time scales. The reports study the rates of drawdown and recharges measured in regional wells, and give a general depiction of the current state of groundwater levels on a yearly basis. The reports also compare historical trends of regional water levels. Data collection is a joint effort of the United States Geological Survey, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Nebraska Natural Resources Districts, and Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District.

Source: University of Nebraska CropWatch

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