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High Plains Regional Ground Water Area


NAWQA--High Plains Regional Ground Water Area (HPGW)

Study Area: High Plains Aquifer System
Period of Project: Ongoing
Project Number: CO331
Project Chief: Peter B. McMahon


As part of the NAWQA program, the USGS is evaluating ground-water quality in the High Plains aquifer system. The High Plains aquifer system underlies 174,000 square miles in parts of Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, and Wyoming. Approximately 20 percent of the irrigated land in the United States is in the High Plains, and about 30 percent of the ground water used for irrigation in the U.S. is pumped from the High Plains aquifer.

The quality of water in the High Plains aquifer generally is suitable for irrigation use but, in many places, the water does not meet U.S. Environmental Protection Agency drinking-water standards with respect to several dissolved constituents (dissolved solids/salinity, fluoride, chloride, and sulfate). Only sparsely scattered water-quality data (except Texas) are available for pesticides, volatile organic compounds, and trace metals in the High Plains aquifer system. Nutrient data are available, to a varying degree, across the aquifer.


  1. To characterize, in a nationally consistent manner, the broad-scale geographic variations of ground-water quality related to major contaminant sources and background conditions.
  2. To characterize hydrogeology and water use.
  3. To identify the principal water quantity and quality issues.

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Page Last Modified: Thursday, 29-Dec-2016 13:35:51 EST