Groundwater

Groundwater

Groundwater

Groundwater is vital to the “Good Life” in Nebraska. It maintains our agricultural economy, supplies water to streams and lakes, and provides drinking water to municipalities and rural households. Nebraskans pump groundwater out of the High Plains aquifer and many other aquifers across the state. The vast majority of groundwater is used for agricultural production.

An Overview of Seondary Aquifers in Nebraska

Nebraska is a groundwater-rich state. Nebraska has one primary aquifer, the High Plains Aquifer, and seven secondary aquifers. These secondary aquifers supply water to more than 4000 active wells spread across 30 counties.

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Groundwater Levels

Groundwater levels are an indication of how humans and climate have impacted the amount of water stored below ground, and the amount of groundwater that flows out of the ground to streams, rivers, springs, and lakes. Depletion of groundwater resources would have major social, economic, and ecological impacts in Nebraska and beyond.

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Groundwater Quality and Protection

In many parts of Nebraska, the natural quality of groundwater is suitable for both humans and ecosystems. However, in some areas the groundwater quality has been impacted by high levels of nitrate from human activities, or naturally high levels of uranium or arsenic. These groundwater quality issues can cause significant challenges for communities, in part because of the cost of treating groundwater to reduce contaminants to meet drinking water standards.

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Aquifers of Nebraska

There are at least seven major aquifer systems in Nebraska. By far, the High Plains/Ogallala aquifer is the largest in terms of volume of water in storage and withdrawals for irrigation. Several secondary aquifers exist in areas outside of the High Plains aquifer, providing water for irrigation, municipal supplies, and domestic use in parts of far western and far eastern Nebraska.

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