Ogallala Aquifer | What Happens When the Water Runs Out, National Geographic Magazine: Came Home to Haul Water

Agriculture is responsible for 95 percent of aquifer use and communities at the fringes of the aquifer feel it. There are at least 30 families around Clovis NM that can no longer get water from their wells. Some families have carried water home in 5 gallon buckets in the back of a pickup for four years.

A daughter in a family of nine quit her job and moved home to help the family haul water-about 105 gallons a day. She fills and carries 21 5 gallon buckets in the back of the truck for cooking, bathing and other needs. When the water crisis hit the family thought it was temporary, and that they would get a hotel room for the weekend so they could shower or use the water available at friends homes. As it became obvious the water was not coming back they quietly started hauling water. A County Commissioners heard about this family and was aghast at the third world narrative. 

The water eastern New Mexico currently relies heavily on is the Ogallala aquifer, an underground supply of water that eastern New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas sit on top of that drops around two to six feet per year, and only regains a few inches annually.

Just across the state line are 88,000 wells in the TX panhandle. Those 88,000 wells now average around 200 gallons a minute. But when they started irrigation those wells were around 1000 gallons a minute. Most of the water is being used for agricultural purposes. Only 5 percent of water is being drawn from the aquifer by municipalities and non-ag industries.