A newly released report says groundwater levels across Nebraska saw significant decline last year.
Aaron Young, groundwater resources coordinator at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, says only a small portion of the Sandhills did not see a decline, but Young says he would expect to see substantial groundwater level declines even in the Sandhills in the next year or two.
The 2013 Nebraska Statewide Groundwater-Level Monitoring Report shows that from spring 2012 to spring 2013, every county in Nebraska experienced a water-level decline greater than one foot -- with the exception of Grant, Hooker and Thomas Counties.
The report says some parts of Nebraska saw one-year water level changes reach almost 25 feet, though the average decline was just over 2.5 feet.
2012's severe drought created a heavy demand for irrigation water to keep crops alive. According to the High Plains Regional Climate Center, precipitation values for the state were 12-16 inches below normal for Nebraska, with the highest average temperatures ever recorded.
"The extreme drought resulted in dry wells, municipal water shortages and water restrictions throughout the state," Young said.
The groundwater-level monitoring reports study the rates of drawdown and recharges measured in regional wells, and give a general depiction of the current state of groundwater levels on a yearly basis.