RFG 2018 Conference

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2016 Critical Issues Forum: Addressing Changes in Regional Groundwater Resources: Lessons from the High Plains Aquifer

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Groundwater is often a "transboundary" resource, shared by many groups of people across town, county, state, and international boundaries. Changes in groundwater resources can create unique challenges requiring high levels of cooperation and innovation amongst stakeholder groups, from individuals to state and federal government.

The High Plains Aquifer (HPA), which spans eight states from South Dakota to Texas, is overlain by about 20 percent of the nation’s irrigated agricultural land, and provides about 30 percent of the groundwater used for irrigation in the country according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Work by the Kansas Geological Survey indicates that some parts of the aquifer are already effectively exhausted for agricultural purposes; some parts are estimated to have a lifespan of less than 25 years; and other areas remain generally unaffected (Buchanan et al., 2015).

The 2016 Critical Issues Forum was a 1-½ day meeting covering multiple aspects of groundwater depletion in the High Plains. Presentations covered the current state of the High Plains Aquifer and water usage from scientific, legal, regulatory, economic, and social perspectives. State-specific perspectives were provided from Kansas, Nebraska, Texas, and Oklahoma, and a variety of issues were discussed surrounding communication, negotiation, policy, and the influence of climate change. Break-out sessions and participant discussions identified lessons learned and best practices from the High Plains Aquifer experience that might apply to other regions facing changes in the Earth system.

The Forum was hosted by the Payne Institute for Earth Resources at the Colorado School of Mines, and sponsored by the Geological Society of America, the National Ground Water Association, the American Institute of Professional Geologists, the National Association of State Boards of Geology, and the Association of American State Geologists.

For more information about the Forum, including the final report, please visit the 2016 Critical Issues Forum home page.

2016 Forum: Selected Footage

Interactive map of bioenergy potential across the United States

The U.S. Department of Energy's Bioenergy Knowledge Discovery Framework provides an interactive map of biomass production potential across the United States (at the time of writing, maps do not cover Alaska and Hawaii). The aim is to show how much biomass may be available for bioenergy production from the present day through to the year 2040.

Users can filter the map according to:

Interactive map of coal resources in the United States

The U.S. Geological Survey's National Coal Resources Data System comes with an interactive map that provides a huge amount of information on the distribution, thickness, and classification of coal in the United States.

The interactive map contains over 250,000 data points, each typically representing a core sample, drill hole, or driller's log in a specific location. You can use the "Filter" tool to focus in on specific areas, or on data collected by specific organizations. Commonly available data include:

Interactive map of historical oil and gas production in the United States

The U.S. Geological Survey provides an interactive map of historical oil and gas production in the United States from 1859 to 2005, including Alaska and Hawaii. In this map, the country is split into quarter-mile cells and the production status of all wells in that cell are aggregated for each time period.

The map can be filtered to show oil and gas production pre-1900, for each decade of the 20th century, and for 2000-2005.

Interactive map of wind farms in the United States

The U.S. Geological Survey's interactive windFarm map provides detailed information on wind farms across the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii.

By zooming in on the map, users can find the precise location of tens of thousands of individual turbines, with information for each turbine including the owner, generating capacity, on-line date, type of tower, blade length, total height, and the confidence with which this information can be given.

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