MAY 9, 2006 - Posted at 8:01 a.m. CST
LITTLE ROCK, AR - The Arkansas Natural Resources Commission says the water table in 26 eastern Arkansas counties fell sharply last year. The agency says that the drought required farmers to draw more water from wells.
Water levels in 376 wells in those counties fell between the spring and the fall of 2005 by an average of 4.4 feet, compared with a normal decline of 3.3 feet.
Officials say that water is being drawn from the aquifer faster than the aquifer can re-charge.
The $319 million Grand Prarie Irrigation Project, which will move water from the White River to farms in the Grand Prarie area, will eventually ease some of the pressure on the aquifer. But that project isn't expected to begin delivering water to farmers until 2010 or 2011.