Congressman Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico’s Third District has highlighted a $6.5 million investment by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in the Ogallala Aquifer region to support water conservation and improve water quality. As part of the effort, USDA has identified seven priority areas, including Eastern New Mexico.
“These federal funds come at an important time as Eastern New Mexico is feeling the impact of severe drought conditions over the past few years,” Congressman Luján said. “Investing in projects to promote water conservation will ensure that we are making the most of our scarce water resources and stretch them farther to support communities in Eastern New Mexico.”
Through the Ogallala Aquifer Initiative, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will work with producers in Eastern New Mexico to convert irrigated cropland to dryland cropping systems and restore grasslands. NRCS will also work with producers to reduce pumping on 1,190 acres a year for four years, conserving 1.56 billion gallons of water during that time – water that will be used for agriculture lands, cities like Clovis and Portales, and Cannon Air Force Base.
The Ogallala Aquifer supports nearly one-fifth of the wheat, corn, cotton, and cattle produced in the United States and is the main water supply for the High Plains population. The reservoir covers about 174,000 square miles mainly in Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas, while also covering part of New Mexico, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Colorado.