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Farmed Out: Overpumping Threatens to Deplete U.S. High Plains Groundwater

Groundwater

Story at-a-glance -

  • In the next 50 years, research suggests 70 percent of the High Plains Aquifer System in the Midwestern US may be depleted
  • Water-intensive cattle and corn crops account for the majority of water usage in the US, and the High Plains Aquifer supplies 30 percent of US irrigated groundwater
  • Once the aquifer is depleted, it would take an average of 500 to 1,300 years to completely refill; farmers would need to reduce their pumping of the aquifer by 80 percent for it to be replenished naturally by rainfall
  • The adoption of more sustainable agricultural practices, including a return to grass-fed cattle, will be necessary to protect water supplies for future generations

By Dr. Mercola

In the US Midwest, corn and cattle are kings, but both require large amounts of water to be sustained. Not only is corn a water-intensive crop, but cattle raised on concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) are fed mostly corn.


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