This story was originally published by The Texas Tribune. Sign up for The Brief, The Texas Tribune’s daily newsletter.
The Ogallala Aquifer is buried deep throughout the High Plains. The water flowing underneath is as good as gold for farmers in the region, serving as a lifeline in years when the drought and Texas heat wither crops.
It is a critical resource for the agricultural industry — not just in Texas, but in the other seven states that it lies beneath.
“At the end of the day, the Ogallala is propping us all up,” said Eric Simpson, the farm manager at At’l Do Farms on the outskirts of Lubbock. “No matter what, I’ll probably have to use water from it this summer because, without that, I don’t think we could grow much in West Texas unless it’s a cactus or a mesquite tree.”
Following several years of dry land and hardly any rainfall, farmers like Simpson in the High Plains are depending more on the aquifer. And that has consequences that are coming into focus.