From Wyoming a success in water enhancement

Olio Officina

Water conservation is one of the main issues for agriculture in the future. A new proof of it comes from Laramie County in Wyoming (USA) thanks to the efforts of the district conservationist James Pike with the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) who constantly encouraged farmers and ranchers in the region fed by the Ogallala Aquifer to use water wisely. Taking into account that Ogallala Aquifer stretches from western Texas to South Dakota, supports nearly one-fifth of the wheat, corn, cotton and cattle produced in the United States and makes up 30 percent of all groundwater used for irrigation in America one understands well the scope of their environmental campaign. In a vast land like Wyoming where too many wells combined with inefficient irrigation has made water conservation a volatile topic, NRCS’ Ogallala Aquifer Initiative aims to reduce aquifer water use, improve water quality and enhance the economic viability of croplands and rangelands in Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, New Mexico, Texas, South Dakota and Wyoming. The first results of Pike’s hard work are more than encouraging: 1 trillion gallons of water saved annually or 3,000-acre feet (one acre foot of water is used by a suburban family of five each year). Thanks to the former Agriculture Water Enhancement Program (AWEP) and to the 2014 Farm Bill, there are many programs available to landowners who want to help conserve water, including the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, which is the one that now funds NRCS’ Ogallala Aquifer Initiative. According to US Government, this initiative in the eight states saved enough water during fiscal 2010 and 2011 to provide water for over 53,000 families or 265,000 people.

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