Study: Declining Groundwater In West Affecting Domestic, Agricultural Wells

By Casey Kuhn
Published: Monday, October 9, 2017 - 7:48am
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Local reports of Western wells going dry now have scientific backing. A study from Stanford University shows declining groundwater levels are drying up wells in the western United States.

The study looked at 65 years of groundwater well records in more than a dozen western states, including Arizona. Then, researchers zeroed in on the percentage of wells going dry between 2013 and 2015.

Essentially, the wells affected by drought and less groundwater occurred in rural areas with domestic wells.

Study co-author Scott Jasechko said locally, those wells end up where people live.

“This is one of the areas where we tend to find rather deep wells," he said. "We also tend to find an interesting pattern in some parts of Arizona, that is, we find agricultural wells tend to be a little bit deeper than some domestic wells.”

Jasechko said the compiled data could eventually be used to help manage and predict groundwater loss in the future.

“If groundwater levels continue to decline at a certain rate, these data might be able to be used to project into the future just how vulnerable certain infrastructure is to going dry and when that desiccation of wells is to occur,” Jasechko said.

Deep groundwater wells in Arizona are shallower when used for domestic use. That means those wells tend to dry faster.

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