In the Midwest, 400 feet beneath the Earth’s surface, lies a seemingly endless body of water formed by melting glaciers during the last ice age. Trapped between sand, clay and ancient sediment the Ogallala aquifer spans over an eight-state region from South Dakota and Nebraska, to New Mexico, and Texas. For eleven years, with the aquifer beneath my feet, I have photographed within the perimeter of the 174,000 sq. mile area.
Beginning in the 1950s, pumping the aquifer added value to a vast and dry region that had experienced the hardships of the Dust Bowl. Millions of gallons of water were pumped for agriculture, business, and urbanization. Dams, man-made lakes, and hydropower plants were created to control the water which allowed the region to thrive. It is now considered the breadbasket of the world for agriculture and industry, an unimaginable place, a dream world with water pouring out of the ground in the middle of a vast desert.
However, it has been predicted that the future of the aquifer is in jeopardy. It has been pumped for nearly 60 years with little regulation and monitoring of water usage. The decline of the aquifer is irreversible; measured in feet per year while recharge is measured in inches. It is expected that the aquifer will dry up by the year 2050 if pumped at the current rate.
Documenting the aquifer may not directly affect positive outcomes or inspire a change to reduce water consumption. Thus my intent lies in documenting a story with a predetermined ending which reveals how a prediction can affect photographs. Photography has the ability to reveal facts, but not necessarily truths. My truth in this project is ever-changing as I take in all sides of the story. Therefore I allow myself to assume in either devastation or triumph. For ten years, with the aquifer beneath my feet, I have documented the subtle and sometimes drastic effects of the changing landscape in order to be part of a story that does not yet have an ending.