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Water conservation methods to conserve the High Plains aquifer and Arikaree River Basin: a case study on the Arikaree River




Prior, Adam Kent, author
Oad, Ramchand Naraindas, advisor
Podmore, Terence H., committee member
Pritchett, James G., committee member

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Throughout the United States, and especially in Colorado, farmers confront the challenges of meeting water needs for crop production, while trying to maintain natural habitats. The Arikaree River, a tributary of the Republican River in eastern Colorado, is groundwater dependent on the High Plains aquifer (HPA). The river alluvium is habitat for threatened fish species such as the Hybognathus hankinsoni (Brassy Minnow) and habitat for many terrestrial invertebrates. In addition to the demands for maintenance of habitats, the surrounding almost exclusively irrigated agricultural lands require water as well. The research presented here combined a water balance model, a water conservation model, and water conservation survey results from farmers in eastern Colorado. These models determined how water conservation alternatives identified in the water conservation survey could extend the life of the Arikaree River. The first scenario examined the impacts of no change to the current water usage throughout the High Plains aquifer and the alluvium. If no change is made in the High Plains aquifer, water levels will continue to decline at the linear rate of 0.183 m/year with the deepest pool in the upper segment drying in 8 to 12 years. In the second scenario, aerial photographs identified 18 irrigation wells, currently in operation within the alluvial aquifer that could be removed. This scenario could extend the projected pool dry up time to 30 years. The third scenario found that water conservation participation of 43%, 57%, and 62% of farmer would extend the drying time to 20, 30, and 40 years, respectively. The final analysis was to calculate the reduction in water usage in order to stop the decline of the High Plains Aquifer. The analysis found that 77% participation of farmer in all conservation alternatives or reducing pumping by 62.9% would be necessary to stabilize the High Plains Aquifer.


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Water conservation -- Colorado -- Arikaree River
Habitat conservation -- Colorado -- Arikaree River
Water conservation -- Colorado -- Yuma County
Habitat conservation -- Colorado -- Yuma County
water balance
Groundwater -- Colorado -- Yuma County


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