December 17, 2003 - Posted at 8:07 a.m. CDT
LITTLE ROCK, AR - A $1 million study says irrigation wells in eastern Arkansas may start running dry in five years if nothing is done to conserve underground water in the region.
The three-year study by the U.S. Geological Survey says farmers will have to begin tapping river water instead of the shrinking alluvial aquifer in the state's Grand Prarie region to avert a water shortage.
The study said the amount of water pumped out of the aquifer must be cut by more than 40 percent to keep water levels at or above half-capacity.
Reports that the aquifer is drying up aren't new. But the study provides models that will help geologists better predict what will occur in the future.
Roughly 45,000 wells tap groundwater across Arkansas, with 1,500 to 2,000 new wells dug each year.