In the Midwest, 400 feet beneath the Earth’s surface, lies a seemingly endless body of water that was 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.
Beginning in the 1950’s, pumping the aquifer added value to a vast and dry region that had experienced the hardships of economic and environmental disaster coined 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 an unimaginable place, a dream world with water pouring out of the ground in the middle of a vast dessert. Now, it is considered the breadbasket of the world for agriculture and industry,
However 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.
For eleven years, with the aquifer beneath my feet, I have photographed within the perimeter of the 174,000 sq. mile area. I have documented the subtle and sometimes drastic affects of the changing landscape in order to be part of a story that does not yet have an ending.