In The Loup: Groundwater Levels Lower Across Most of NRD

Groundwater wells in the Lower Loup NRD showed an average decline of 1.05 feet. Lower Loup NRD staff collected the groundwater level readings on 445 irrigation and monitoring wells from March 22 to April 5.

Water Modeling Coordinator Cam Conrad said that, when compared to Spring, 2020, a total of 306 wells (69%) showed a decline in water levels. Conrad stated that conversely, 135 wells (30%) had higher water readings than last year, with an average change of .86 feet, and 3 wells reported no change from last year.

Only two counties in the District reported a majority of higher water levels in wells than last year, most notably, Boone (96%), Sherman (94%), Wheeler (93%), Buffalo (83%), and Custer (72%). The largest single decrease in water levels at one location was 7.14 feet in southern Greeley County near Scotia, while the largest increase was 4.48 feet higher in southern Nance County near Fullerton.

The largest area of decreasing water levels, compared to 1982, continues to be found in southern Custer County and northern Buffalo County, south of the South Loup River. Areas between Arnold and Callaway reported declines of more than 3 feet, and water levels south of Pleasanton declined 2-5 feet, compared to 1982 readings. Conrad said water levels in Valley County are more than 25 feet above 1982 levels fed by recharge from irrigation canals.

The NRD measures water levels in both Spring and Fall. Spring levels indicate the condition of the aquifer as irrigation wells are not typically pumping and levels have recovered from the previous year’s irrigation.