District Water Levels

Annually the district monitors declines in water levels as an important part of its data collection efforts which contributes to the management of the area’s groundwater resources. The district tracks decline in groundwater by maintaining a network of over ­­­­435 water-level monitor wells. District monitor wells are measured in January and February after the majority of the season’s agricultural pumping is completed and measuring is completed by mid-March. The information is analyzed and used to create maps that show average water level changes across the district. The data helps the district make reasonable, long-term management decisions based on accurate and current information. 

The district began drilling its own dedicated monitor wells in 2007 and also began installing water level monitoring equipment in many of them. The equipment records measurements every 12 hours. The district has drilled or owns 62 dedicated monitor wells and has installed monitoring equipment in 46 of those. These continuous measurements create a valuable record of the ongoing changes in water levels. These non-production wells are dedicated solely to data collection. Dedicated, non-production monitor wells provide information with a greater degree of accuracy, reliability and consistency than do the other types of wells the district may monitor.  They are also available, if necessary, for conducting water quality analyses and other aquifer tests that cannot easily be conducted in other types of wells.

Changes in water levels in district monitor wells vary from rises in some instances to declines that locally may exceed 8-10 feet per year. Each county in the district has areas of little to no decline, as well as areas of much greater decline. Changes in the water level of the aquifer averaged for all the monitor wells of any county, or calculated from groundwater production data, however, overall show declining water levels.

Declines in the water table are caused predominately by pumping and are influenced by surface recharge and lateral flows into and out of the aquifer. Recharge of the aquifer from the surface comes from rainfall and snowmelt. The Panhandle of Texas receives such modest amounts of rain and snow and has such a high evaporation rate that there is little opportunity for surface recharge to appreciably affect water levels.

The water level measurements resulting from the 2016 production season have been gathered, tabulated and published in the “2016-2017 Hydrology and Groundwater Resources” report, which is available in the district office and on the district’s website http://northplainsgcd.org/aquifer-data-maps/hydrologic-report/. A summary of the results is also presented in the following table and illustrations.

Annual county declines in water levels calculated from groundwater production reports. 

County

Average Annual Feet of Decline

Dallam

2.0

Hansford

1.6

Hartley

2.7

Hutchinson

2.2

Lipscomb

0.4

Moore

2.5

Ochiltree

0.8

Sherman

2.7

 

Average depth to water and comparisons of average declines in select district water level monitor wells.

County

Avg. Depth to Water(Feet)

2016 Avg. Well Decline (Feet)

2015 Avg. Well Decline (Feet)

Current 5-Year Avg. Well Decline(Feet)

Previous 5-Year Avg. Well Decline (Feet)

Current 10-Year Avg. Well Decline (Feet)

Previous 10-Year Avg. Well Decline(Feet)

Dallam

284

3.85

3.75

3.73

3.48

3.95

3.05

Hansford

304

2.42

2.37

2.32

2.01

2.19

1.58

Hartley

363

4.62

4.48

4.38

4.20

4.27

3.33

Hutchinson

349

2.12

2.09

2.06

1.95

2.05

1.72

Lipscomb

162

.89

.86

.88

.79

.89

.58

Moore

354

3.07

3.00

2.93

2.30

2.59

1.71

Ochiltree

332

1.56

1.54

1.4

1.26

1.38

1.00

Sherman

303

3.11

3.06

2.99

2.71

2.94

2.71

District-wide

306

2.71

2.64

2.59

2.34

2.53

1.96

 

Average annual declines in water level are calculated values created using reported annual groundwater production and an estimated aquifer specific yield of 18 percent.

Average county declines and average declines observed in monitor wells differ because district monitor wells are predominately located near areas of high pumping. This bias in monitor well location causes an over estimation of declines when used to calculate county averages.