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most of western Texas was grassland. When agriculture arrived, it was primarily 'dryland' farming - meaning grasses and cereal plants grown without irrigation - and grazing land for livestock. People dug their wells to 30 or 40 feet deep.

When oil was discovered, the methane pressure was high enough to blow it out of the ground at first. Then simple beam pumps sufficed. After further removal, the operators had to pump water into the well to displace the oil upwards. The mineral companies had also discovered elemental sulfur deposits on top of 'salt domes'. To extract it, they heated water and pumped it into the deposits to sort-of melt it. In both cases the contaminated water that came out of the ground was evaporated by the Texas dry heat. Then cotton moved west, too, which required heavy irrigation. Nowadays the average water table is closer to 600 feet deep.

The Ogallala aquifer is one of the largest 'fossil water' impoundments in the world, and it underlies the Plains states from Alberta almost to Mexico. Renewable groundwater and surface waters are almost negligible nowadays until you reach the Platte and the Missouri which are fed by the glaciers of the Rocky Mountains (which are reduced year-on-year. Mirta and I were in Glacier National Park last August. Pretty soon it will be called the Former Glacier N.P.). The Ogallala has been tapped for the cornfields and such for some years now. It's average volume is falling, because there is no rapid re-charge system for it. In other words water use is unsustainable in the 'Breadbasket' of the U.S.A.

paul spencer

by paul spencer (spencerinthegorge AT yahoo DOT com) on Fri Feb 10th, 2012 at 05:02:39 PM EST
From the article:



"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet

by Melanchthon on Fri Feb 10th, 2012 at 06:13:52 PM EST
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The Arkansas River is likely the most significant source of recharge south of the Platte, but the aquifer along the Arkansas is clearly being pumped much faster than it is being recharged over most of its course into Oklahoma. In Kay County, Oklahoma, ten miles from where I grew up in Osage County - the biggest county in Oklahoma and the former Osage Reservation - Phillips Petroleum ran a 36" pipeline from well fields along the Arkansas over to the North Burbank Oil Field, atop of which I grew up, to feed a pattern of injection wells about every 1/4 mile.

There was a similar, offset pattern of recovery wells drilled with each injection well surrounded by four recovery wells. The oil was about 5,000' down and had produced gushers when first tapped around time of statehood in 1907. One then abandoned well not too far from where our house stood had produced light liquids that had so much octane that a car of that era would run on what came out of the ground. I would estimate that the field covered 50 to 100 square miles.

The field was pretty much completed by the late '50s and could still be in operation. In those days a around half of the liquid out of the recovery well was water, which was separated in primary treatment 'heater-treaters'. I remember seeing readings being taken from the standpipes on the sides of the holding tanks. I believe that the separated water was reinjected. It was highly saline, in addition to the VOC contamination.

At a minimum, depending on pump pressure in the water pipeline, this would represent the continual diversion of a 35 square foot portion of the river's flow. But there was still sufficient flow to fill the lake behind the dam that was built on the Arkansas in the '60s. The modern auditorium building, complete with sloped floor and fly stage, along with the kitchen/auditorium at the Shidler High School was paid for out of the 'ear-marks' that went with the authorization for the dam project, and was finished just before my senior year. I graduated in 1960.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Feb 11th, 2012 at 07:54:02 PM EST
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