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Vol. 6 No. i (2018): Spring 2018

The Need for an Interstate Compact Between Ogallala States

November 27, 2023


The Ogallala Aquifer is an important economic resource for both the High Plains Region of the United States and the entire country due to its vital contributions to the world market. The Ogallala Aquifer spreads across eight states in its entirety: South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas. Agriculture in these states depends heavily on the water the Ogallala provides, and the economy of the United States would face severe impacts if it ever ran dry. The chief problem the aquifer faces in
terms of sustainability, is the difference in regulation the encountered from state to state. This results in issues with future planning and management for the states regarding irrigation for agriculture, dairy farms, cattle ranchers, and municipal water supplies. As a result of people pumping groundwater faster than the aquifer is able to naturally recharge itself, the Ogallala faces a seriously
depleted water table. The question is not why or how the aquifer will go dry, but when. Upon a research of this subject, this review proposes that all eight of the states must create a compact and be in agreement on one method of management to implement, granting some lee-way for particular local needs and acknowledging the varied availability of water in different sections of the aquifer. Secondly, states must allot correlative rights based on property rights determined through groundwater acre-feet per acre of surface property owned. The compact must also possess a binding long-term sustainability plan and require mandatory metering of every property owner in every state. It is up to the next generation of college graduates and future occupants of political positions to reverse current trends towards environmental exploitation and create an atmosphere conducive to environmental stabilization and the preservation of the Ogallala Aquifer.