The impact of irrigated cotton acreage on the lift of the Ogallala Aquifer



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The objective of this thesis is to analyze the effect of rates of change in the irrigated acreage of cotton in West Texas on lift of the Ogallala Aquifer. The study area consists of 15 counties that lie on the Ogallala Aquifer and below the Canadian River. These counties include, Bailey, Castro, Cochran, Dawson, Deaf Smith, Gaines, Hale, Hockley, Lamb, Lubbock, Lynn, Parmer, Swisher, Terry and Yoakum. First, all the wells on the Ogallala were mapped from 1990 to 2004. From this an average lift on each county for each year will be gathered. ‘Lift’ refers to the depth to groundwater. Then irrigated acreage for each of the above mentioned counties will be collected from USDA. Subsequently, fuel cost and precipitation data will be gathered.

This data will be used to build an ordinary least square time series model, in order to explain the effects of change in irrigated acreage of cotton on the lift. The hypothesis is that since irrigation is a major source for drawing groundwater, as more and more land gets irrigated, more and more water is being pumped out.

With this model we can analyze the relationship between increasing irrigated acreage and increasing lift of the groundwater. Also, “The Geography of the Ogallala Aquifer†map series constructed by The Center for Geospatial Technology will be used in conjunction with this model to explain the impact of this phenomenon.