Ogallala Aquifer
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Basic Information

The Ogallala Aquifer is an enormous aquifer below the Great Plains of the United States. It provides water for large parts of the states of South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Texas, and has been used extensively for agriculture after World War Two, when farmers started to use diesel motors to pump the water out of the aquifer instead of windmills. However, the aquifer is quickly being depleted due to excessive use, with some estimates predicting that it will be depleted entirely in as little as 25 years.

See Also


1. The Ogallala Aquifer: Saving a Vital U.S. Water Source in Scientific American Earth 3.0/March 2009 issue

Game and Story Use

  • If you want to justify food shortages in the United States in a Twenty Minutes Into The Future or Cyberpunk setting, you can use this as justification together with climate shifts caused by Global Warming to explain where all the farms have gone.
  • Similar situations might appear in fictional nations or locations where most of the local farmers all depend on the same aquifer - which is slowly being depleted by their use. This should generate a nice atmosphere of desperation and impending doom.
    • Aquifer depletion is one of the theories put forward for the cause of the collapse of Mayan civilisation - a large enough population simply drained the cenotes that they relied upon for water faster than they re-filled and one day, they essentially ran dry. Of course, this sort of disaster covers itself up quite well - as soon as migration and death deplete the local demand, the cenotes re-fill. A society with no comprehension of hydro-geology might well have no idea what was happening or why.
  • A supervillain might threaten the Ogalla Aquifer via some extremely potent poison or supernatural effect - causing agriculture to collapse across eight states unless his demands are met.
    • Alternatively, he could introduce some mutagen which affects all plants and animals in the affected region - causing them to become dangerous to humans.
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