Nebraska groundwater levels still recovering from 2012 drought

Groundwater levels in Nebraska continue to recover from the 2012 drought.

An annual report from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) shows water levels on average rose more than eight inches from the spring of 2015 to the spring of 2016.  UNL survey geologist Aaron Young says that brings the statewide average back within two feet of pre-2012 levels.

“On average, wells across the state are showing a decline of about 1.8 feet since before 2012,” says Young.

Groundwater levels in some parts of the state dropped as much as 25 feet during the 2012 drought. Young says several years of normal to above-normal precipitation have helped the groundwater rebound.  And he says improvements over the years in irrigation efficiency have also been positive.

“The move from flood irrigation to center pivots, efficiency-wise, makes a big difference,” he says.

Nebraska tops the nation in irrigated farmland, with about 80 percent watered by center pivots.

AUDIO: Aaron Young

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