Ground Water: An Overview

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1977-06-21.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)



Ground Water: An Overview
The Nation’s ground water should be man-
aged and cared for like the precious com-
modity that it is--especially in arid States.

GAO is attempting       to direct attention    to
ground water as an important          natural re-
source, and it raises questions about ground
water   management,     conservation,    and use
which warrant attention    by the Congress and
study by Federal and State agencies.

                                                    JUNE 21, 1977
                      COMPTROLLER     GENERAL     OF     THE   UNITED   STATES
                                    WASHINGTON,    DC.     20648


To the President of the Senate and the
Speaker of the House of Representatives
         Problems      of using the ground water from an aquifer
faster      than the water in the aquifer          is replenished        and, to
a lesser       extent,    land subsidence     and saltwater      intrusion
into fresh        ground water reservoirs,       are occurring        in many
localities        across the Nation.       This report     discusses       the
importance        of ground water,     problems   involving      ground
water supplies,          efforts  to manage ground water,          and data
       We made the review to direct            attention       to ground water
as an important       natural    resource     and to suggest        a number of
questions    regarding       its management,      conservation,       and use
which warrant      attention     by the Congress and study by Federal
and State agencies         and others     responsible       for the planning
and administration         of water resources         development.
     The review was made pursuant to the Budget                                  and Account-
ing Act, 1921 (31 U.S.C. 53), and the Accounting                                  and Audit-
ing Act of 1950 (31 U.S.C.  67).
        Copies of this       report   are being sent to the Director,
Office    of Management and Budget;          the Secretaries   of the
Interior,     Agriculture,       and Defense;   and the Administrator,
Environmental       Protection      Agency.

                                              Comptroller   General
                                              of the United   States
    COMPTROLLER GENERAL'S                                 GROUND WATER:         AN OVERVIEW

I                  DIGEST
                   This report       discusses     the importance         of
                   ground water,        problems     involving      ground water        _
                   supplies,     what is being done to manage ground
                   water,    and data needs--primarily               in the arid
                   and semi-arid        States.      Several     questions     re-
                   garding    its management,          conservation,       and use
                   warrant    attention       by the Congress          and study
                   by Federal      and State agencies          and others      re-
                   sponsible     for planning        and administering
                   water resources         development.
I                  Presently,       ground water         (water below the sur-
                   face of the earth)            supplies     about 20 percent
                   of all fresh water used in the United                      States.
                   The estimated         storage     capacity    of aquifers
                    (underground       reservoirs)        is nearly       20 times
                   the combined volume of all the Nation's
                   rivers,    ponds, and other water on the surface.
                   Although      the ground water supply              in the 48
                   contiguous       States     is plentiful,       little       more
                   than one quarter           of it--equivalent           to about
                   10 years annual precipitation--is                    available
                   for use because it cannot be extracted                       using
                   present     techniques.
                   The dependence        on ground water varies          from
                   locality      to locality.         Only 2 percent     of the
                   water Montana used came from ground water,
                   while      62 percent      in Arizona    came from ground
                   water.       About 80 percent        of municipal     water
                   systems are supplied            by wells   which serve
                   about 30 percent          of the Nation's      population.
                   Irrigation       accounts     for over half     of ground
                   water use.        (See pp. 1 to 4.)
                   -_I_   WATER PROBLEMS
                   Many places       across the Nation          are using the
                   ground water from an aquifer               faster     than the
                   water in the aquifer            is replenished.          To a
                   lesser    extent,     soil   subsidence        (lowering    of
                   the land surface         resulting      from reduced
                   ground water)        and saltwater        seepage into
                   fresh    ground water reservoirs,             are also oc-
                   curring.      (See pp. 5, 15, and 16.)

                                                  i                                CED-77-69
    w              Upon removal,   the report
    cover date;hould    be noted   hereon.
In the High Plains         region     of western     Texas-
eastern      New Mexico,     the ground water problem
is particularly        acute.      The fast-dwindling
and increasingly        expensive      supply of ground
water,      with no other local        water source
identified,       may soon cause profound           economic
and social       consequences      there.    Similar      prob-
lems are developing          in the ground water
aquifer      which extends      from this    region     to as
far north as the Platte            River in Nebraska.
 (See pp. 9 and 13.)
Local and State governments,       with technical
assistance  from the Government,        usually    man-
age ground water resources.         Major Federal
activities  include    data gathering,      research,
technical  assistance,     and water resources        de-
velopment  or supply    augmentation.       (See p. 19.)
Ground water management,                 when it exists,        aims
to regulate        ground water withdrawals               and use
of the water.           In the Western States,              empha-
sis has been on administering                   and protecting
surface      and ground water rights.                 More inten-
sive ground water management generally                       occurs
only after        a locality        has been faced with
problems,        such as declining          ground water lev-
els,    soil     subsidence,        or saltwater       entering      the
fresh water.           State water rights           laws and lack
of sufficient          geological        and hydrological         data
prevent      more intensive          management.         Federal,
State,     and local       officials       said that optimal
water management would include                   using and man-
aging surface          and ground water as a unit and
planning       the use of nontributary              ground waters
(those     that do not connect with surface                   water).
A management scheme for nontributary                      ground
water must be concerned               primarily       with con-
serving      the limited         supply.
Surface     and ground water often            are interre-
lated,    and actions      on one can affect         the
other.      In such situations,         officials      said
a different      system    of water rights        and a
different      water economy should not develop
for each water source.            Furthermore,       they
pointed     out that    using surface         and ground
water together        can increase     water availabil-
ity in a hydrological          area.

                 MORE DATA NEEDED
                 In ground water management,    the aquifer      or
                 aquifer  system must be described     in detail
                 and the quantity  and quality    of the water
                 supply  must be continuously   monitored.
                 The United    States    Geological     Survey,   Depart-
                 ment of the Interior,          has provided    much of
                 this   type of data to managers through           its
                 Federal-State      cooperative     program.     However,
                 more data is needed.
                 State and local   officials    said that because
                 of tight  State and local     budgets,   the Govern-
                 ment will  have to develop     the needed data if
                 it is to be provided.       (See p. 30.)
I                --Should    the Government   take a more active
                    role in ground water management?      If so,
                    what should its role be and what agency or
                    agencies    should be responsible?
                 --Should      future     construction     of Federal     water
                    resource      projects      depend on whether     the
                    States     show that their         laws provide   for
                    integrating        surface     and ground water rights?
                 --How crucial   is an inventory     of water rights
                    to proper management of ground water?
                    Should the Government     be responsible  for
                    inventorying   these rights?
                 --Should      the Government  systematically       iden-
                    tify    areas with ground water problems          to
                    assign priorities      for Federal    assistance      in
                    obtaining     ground water data?
                 --Should      there be a national       water policy         re-
                     quiring     all Federal   agencies     involved       in
                   * water,planning      or construction        activities
                     to require      use and management of surface
                     and ground waters       as a unit?       If so, how
                     should such policy       be implemented?
                 --Should   water be transferred        from one river
                    basin to another   to reduce ground water
                    pumping or to recharge      aquifers?

    Jear Sheet                                  iii
--Is         enough     being   done to      identify       and prevent
       the    intrusion       of saltwater        into    ground   water?

--Should      (or can)         Federal      programs     be devised
   which    provide         incentives        to decrease     de-
   pendency       on irrigation           in water-short       areas?
   How important            is irrigation         to the national
   economy?          Is it feasible           to compensate       for
   decreased         farm production,in             such areas      by
   increased         farm production            in areas   not re-
   quiring      irrigation?

These questions,           involving          basic    policy,      war-
rant     consideration        by the Congress.                 Some
should      be studied       by the Federal            and State
agencies       responsible        for     the planning          and
administration          of water        programs:        others     may        I
be more suitable           for private           research       asso-
ciations       or academic        institutions.             GAO will           1
also     be considering         these        questions       in future
reviews      of water-related              issues.                             I


On April        18, 1977,        President        Carter     reported
the results         of a review          he had made of 32
Federal       water    resource        projects        and noted
that      some would       bring      water     to areas        with     no
State      ground     water     management         programs.           In
the case of one project                   (the    Central       Arizona
Project),        the President           recommended         that
further       Federal      funding       be contingent            upon
further       study    of ground         water     supplies         and
the institution            of ground         water     regulation              I
and management           by Arizona.
The President        indicated        that     he was recommend-               I
ing the development            of major        policy     reforms
in the area of water             conservation,          including
wise ground       water     management.           When develop-
ing major     policy      reform      for    better     ground
water  management,          questions        asked    in    this  re-
port  should      be considered           and studied,


Officials        of the Water            Resources      Council,      the@7d
U.S.      Geological       Survey,        and the Bureau         of#be
Reclamation          generally         agreed     with    the report
findings        and matters          for   future      study.      Water
Resources        Council       officials         emphasized      that

                 ground water problems      are national     in scope.
                 Officials   of the Geological        Survey stated
                 that although    the report     did not deal with
                 ground water quality,      this    is as important    as
                 ground water supply.
                 Although     the review was primarily      concerned       '
                 with the ground water supplies          of the Western
                 States,     GAO believes     that any study of the
                 eight    questions    mentioned    above should be na-
                 tional    in scope and that,       where applicable,
                 ground water quality         should be considered.

    Tear Sheet                              V

DIGEST                                                                   i

   1      INTRODUCTION                                                   1
              Texas                                                      2
              California                                                 2
              Nebraska                                                   2
              North Dakota                                               3
              South Dakota                                               3
              Wyoming                                                    3
              Montana                                                    3
              Colorado                                                   4
              Scope of review                                            4
          GROUND WATER PROBLEMS                                          5
              Ground water overdrafting                                  5
                   High Plains          region    of western
                      Texas-eastern           New Mexico                 9
                   Potential         problem     areas in other
                      parts      of.the      High Plains                13
                   Other ground water overdraft                areas
                       in States we visited                             14
              Land subsidence                                           15
                   Adverse effects                                      15
              Saltwater      intrusion                                  16
                   Seawater        intrusion      of coastal
                      aquifers                                          16
                   Saline      water intrusion         of inland
                      aquifers                                          17
                   Severity       of the problem                        17
            MANAGEMENT                                                  19
              State and local        management efforts                 19
              Federal     efforts                                       20
                   Data and technical         assistance                20
              Legal problems        affecting    ground water
                 management                                             23
              Opportunities       for improvements       in ground
                 water management                                       26
            GROUND WATER MANAGEMENT                                     30
              Type of data needed                                       30
              Why more data is needed                                   30
              Who will provide  the data?                               32
      5    MATTERSFOR FUTURESTUDY                                               35
              Agency comments                                                   36
      I    A brief description of ground water
             management in four of the eight
             states we visited                                                  38
 II        Principal     officials     responsible      for the
              activities      discussed in this        report                   45

          Agricultural       Research Service         p&5@bbb
ASCE      American Society        of Civil    Engineers
GAO       General    Accounting     Office
OWRT      Office    of Water Research and Technology              ,+-6-cf15s1
USGS      United    States   Geological      Survey
                                                      /kQyQ.I   s---
                                   -----   1
        Subsurface     water in completely       saturated   spaces between
soil    particles     or rocks is considered        ground water.     Layers
of soil      or rocks bearing      ground water (underground       reser-
voirs)     are called    aquifers.      Aquifers    have a storage    capa-
city    nearly    20 times the combined volume of the Nation's
rivers,      ponds, lakes,     and all manmade water impoundments.
        Ground water occurs under two conditions:                     artesian
and water table.            An artesian    condition    results       when an
aquifer     is bounded on top by an impermeable               formation
causing     increased       water pressure.        When a well      is drilled,
the water will         either    flow to the surface       or rise in the
well-bore,       depending      upon the extent      of saturation.          When
an aquifer       is not bound by an impermeable            formation,
water-table        conditions      occur and the ground water must be
pumped to the surface.
        The ground water supply             in storage    up to a depth of
one-half       mile within      the 48 contiguous        States   has been es-
timated       by the U.S, Geological           Survey   (USGS) to be 180 bil-
lion acre-feet.          The amount usable with present              technology
is about 46 billion            acre-feet      or about 10 years of annual
precipitation.          Between one-third          and one-half     of the United
States      is underlain       by aquifers      capable   of yielding     50 gal-
lons per minute or more to wells.                   Ground water,      however,
 is not equally       distributed        across the Nation.
         Nationwide,    ground    water supplies      about 20 percent      of
the water withdrawn         for   use.    The dependence      on ground
water for water supply,           however,    varies   from locality    to
locality.        For instance,      ground water as a percent        of total
water use was 62 percent            in Arizona     but only 2 percent     in
Montana.        Some areas of     large population,       such as Long
Island,       New York, depend      almost exclusively       on ground water
for water supply.
         Because of its generally           good quality,      ground water
is an important         drinking    water supply.         About 80 percent      of
all U.S. municipal           water systems are supplied           by wells.
These serve about 30 percent               of the U.S. population.          Another
10 million      families       have individual     well systems.       Ground
water is the water source for nearly                all of the rural        popu-
lation.       Nationwide,       the largest     use of ground water is for
irrigation,       mostly     in the Western States.

        In 1950, ground water use in the United States                totaled
30 to 35 billion        gallons     per day.    It increased     to about
46 billion      gallons    per day in 1960, and by 1980 may be about
80 to 100 billion        gallons     per day.     Ground water use is ex-
pected to increase         because of a growing population          and
larger     water demands, the availability             of ground water,     its
generally      good quality,       and the current      trend away from
new dam construction.            In some areas,      it will   be necessary
to develop      all available       water supplies      in the near future.
        Texas and California        are the largest        users of ground
water.      In 1970, the amount of ground water withdrawn               in
California      was about 20.5 million           acre-feet    of which about
18.0 million       acre-feet     was for irrigation.          In 1970, Texas
withdrew      about 10.3 million       acre-feet       of ground water of
which 8.8 million         acre-feet    was for irrigation.
       The following     is a brief  description      of the role of
ground water in each of the States          we visited     during    our
study.    The description     is based on information         contained
in Federal     and State studies    and reports.
      Ground water,       a significant      resource      throughout     much of
the State,     especially     the western      portion,      supplies    about
75 percent     of the total      water used for municipal,            industrial,
and irrigation      purposes.        It is nearly      the sole source in
areas such as the southern             High Plains,      an area of 25,000
square miles.
      Ground water use is about 40 percent                of   total   water use
in the State,    with irrigation  accounting            for    about   88 percent
of total   ground water withdrawn    for use.
         Nebraska has a large total     ground water supply of good
quality.       As of 1970, all of the States'       municipal water sys-
tems, except      for those of Omaha, Long Pine, and Crawford,
were supplied       by wells  and 40 percent    of Omaha's supply
was ground water.         In addition,  wells   supply water for
three-fourths       of the 4.1 million    acres of irrigated   land and
much of the industrial        and commercial    water supply and water
for livestock.        Nearly  all rural  homes depend on ground
water as their       water source.
       Ground water represents          40 percent       of total   water used
and satisfies     73 percent     of   domestic      needs.     Most of the
larger    cities,  however,    use    surface      water.     Ground water
meets 30 percent      of current      irrigation       needs and is expected
to meet about 50 percent         in   a few years.         There are 40,000
wells   in the State,    of which       250 to 300 are high yield          wells
for irrigation     and municipal        supplies,,
         From 30 to 35 percent   of all water used in South Dakota
is ground water.       Although wells   supply   33 percent   of irriga-
tion water,     ground water supplies     less than 15 percent     of
irrigation     needs in the western    part of the State because of
its poor quality.       Only about five percent     of municipal     water
supplies     is ground water.
        For 1965, an estimated           3 percent   of all water consumed
by man's activities         in the State was ground water.             By 1970,
this    figure  had increased        to about 8 percent,        and may be
about 15 percent       by the year 2000.           The increase    from 1965
to 1970 was mainly       due to irrigation.           The year 2000 projec-
tion by the State Engineer's              Office   was based on potential
industrial     development,      irrigation,       and tourism.
         Most water wells    in Wyoming provide            water for rural
domestic      and livestock    use, and many communities              depend en-
tirely      on ground water.      However,     irrigation       uses the largest
volume of ground water.           Much of the anticipated             growth of
irrigation,       according  to the State Engineer's             Office,     will
depend on ground water "because            either       the practical      limit
of surface      water development     will     have been reached locally
or development        is (or will   be) limited         by legal    constraints."
      Only about 2 percent       of the total     water withdrawn           for
use was ground water.        This was 250,000 acre-feet            of ground
water versus   13,000,OOO acre-feet       of surface      water.        Irriga-
tion used nearly    one-half     of the ground water withdrawn.
Ground water was used for all domestic,            one-half      livestock,
and about one-third     municipal     and industrial      needs.

       Ground water accounts        for 16 percent      of total      State
water use and is virtually          the only water supply          in some
eastern    areas.     Ground water resources         are largely      east
of the Continental        Divide.     For instance,      in the northern
High Plains      (9,500 square miles)       of Colorado,       the Ogallala
Formation     aquifer    supplies   water for municipal          and domes-
tic,   most stock,     and nearly     all irrigation       uses.     The Colo-
rado Geological       Survey has stated       that "Colorado's        ground
water resources       are becoming increasingly         important      with
their   development      continuing    at a fast pace."
         We discussed     ground water programs       and problems    with
officials      of those various      Federal   agencies    in the Washing-
ton, D.C., area which are concerned              with water resource
development       and officials     of Federal    and State agencies
in the States        of California,    Colorado,     Montana,   Nebraska,
North Dakota,        South Dakota,    Texas, and Wyoming.        We also
reviewed      numerous reports      and documents     of these agencies
and private       organizations.
      The data we obtained      was not examined in detail         nor
was its val,idity    evaluated    because our purpose was to obtain
a general   overview    of ground water problems       and management.
Most of our effort      was directed    toward obtaining     informa-
tion concerning     ground water quantity      rather   than quality.
         The Safe Drinking     Water Act of December 16, 1974,
 (Public    Law 93-523),    provides,   among other things,      the means
to prevent     ground water pollution      caused by injection      of
wastes into ground water aquifers.            Extensive   hearings   on
the pollution      aspects    were held by the Public     Health and
Environment      Subcommittee     of the House Interstate     and Foreign
Commerce Committee.


                                     CHAPTER 2
                          GROUND WATER
                                  --   PROBLEMS
        Problems of ground water overdrafting              and, to a lesser
extent,      land subsidence        and salt water intrusion,       are oc-
curring       in many localities       across the Nation.       (See map
P. 6.1      The latter      two problems      generally  occur as a
result     of overdrafting        of aquifers     under certain    geological
and hydrological         conditions.
        Overdrafting      of ground water occurs when withdrawals                      from
an aquifer        exceed net recharge.        Substantial          overdrafting
generally        has one of two effects.          Where the aquifers             are in-
terconnected        with rivers,    streams,      lakes,     etc.,     the over-
drafting      lowers the water levels         or decreases          the flow of the
surface    water.       Substantial    overdrafting        of nontributary
aquifers       (those not interconnected          with surface         water bodies)
results     in taking     water out of storage          and is often          referred
to as ground water mining or storage                 depletion.
        Overdrafting       of stream-connected          aquifers      reduces    sur-
face water levels          and flows and may eventually               deplete    the
water supply         in a hydrological       area.      Overdrafting        of non-
tributary       aquifers    may be considered        mining      of a finite       re-
source.       In both cases, this        results      in the need to (1)
limit     or cease pumping,        (2) deepen existing           wells    or drill
new wells,       or (3) seek alternative           sources     of water.       Ground
water users are faced with having no water supply or a
reduced supply,          or the cost of deepening           or drilling       wells.
Also,     lower well water levels          increase      energy costs to
pump the ground water.
      Serious    economic and social      problems    may result    when
economies    develop    based on a limited      ground water supply.
When the water available         to wells   becomes too expensive       to
pump or is depleted,        water must be imported       at a great   ex-
pense or the economy declines         with adverse      social   and eco-
nomic results,      such as unemployment       and dislocation.      Some-
times water may not be available          for importation.
      In addition,       overdrafting     can result      in large    Federal
expenditures     for water resources         development     projects    to pro-
vide water to replace         or supplement      ground water.        Examples
are the Central      Arizona      Project   ($1.5 billion)      and the Cen-
tral  Valley    Project,     California     ($3.5 billion).

                                                THE NATURE OF PRESENT GROUNDWATER PROBLEMS,                 1975.



     Source:   Preliminary    information        from the
               Water Resources      Council's       1975 National   Assessment   ~~~~~;,~~$d;~~er                     m   ~,~,~~:~:~~,"n'$~~~~'
                                                                                          Snlt Wntnt   itllttttlotl       No Sotlous Ptolhttt~s
                                                                                 m                                    I
         The Federal   Central  Arizona   Project    will      include     the
 construction      of canals to carry water from the Colorado                  River
 to Phoenix     and to Tucson.     The  Governor    of   Arizona,      in    tes-
 tifying     on April  1, 1976, before    a congressional           committee      L/
 concerning     the need for the project      stated     that:
              --Arizona    has a water    emergency.
              --The    water overdraft    in the Phoenix area (population
                 1.2   million)    is two and one-half  times greater   than
                 the   replenishment    of that water.
              --The water overdraft        in Tucson, the largest            city   in
                 the Nation    that depends strictly     on wells,           is five
                 times greater     than the amount of recharge              or re-
                 plenishment     of water.
              --Land    subsidence   of 2-l/2  feet,   affecting     1,000
                 square miles,     has been experienced       because of over-
              --The act authorizing       the project    specifies   that,     ex-
                 cept on Indian    reservations     in the project     service
                 area, no project     water may be delivered       to develop
                 new agricultural     lands.
The Commissioner     of Reclamation                described the Central            Arizona
Project as "primarily     a rescue               type of operation."
         The Federal        Central      Valley    Project       is a large multipur-
pose project         in California          consisting       of 19 dams and re-
lated water conveyance                systems and hydroelectric             generating
plants.        The project's          primary     purpose      is to provide        irri-
gation     water to the Sacramento                and San Joaquin        Valleys.         The
project      was needed because,              among other things,         the existing
ground water supply was not adequate                       to support     the level
of irrigation          farming      taking     place.      For instance,        in
requesting        authorization          for the project's          San Luis Unit
 (serving      the Westlands          Water District)          the Department         of the
Interior       stated     that the ground water level                average      rate
of decline        was about 10 feet per year and, in some places,
20 feet per year.             According         to advocates       of the San Luis
Unit,     without      the project,         the area served by the Westlands
Water District           (about 572,000 acres)             would be fit       for
growing      only sagebrush.


 &/Hearing   Before  the Senate Committee on Appropriations,
   Public   Works for Water and Power Development     and Energy
   Research--Part    7.
       In both the situations        cited   above, it appears that
the population        and economies    of the areas developed          at
higher   rates than could be supported            by the existing        water
suPPlY*     Once    such  developments     had  taken   place,    crisis-
oriented    solutions     had to be considered        which involved
large expenditures        and required     Federal    assistance.
        Local overdrafts            of aquifers     were being experienced         to
some extent         across the Nation.           The   Water Resources     Coun-
cil's    first      national     assessment      of the Nation's      water re-
sources      situation,        published     in 1968, stated      that ground
water storage          depletion      is a severe problem       in some areas,
or a major problem             in many areas,       of the Arkansas-White-Red,
the Texas-Gulf,           Rio Grande, and Lower Colorado             Water re-
sources      regions.        The report      said also that such depletion
is a major problem             in some areas,       or a moderate problem        in
many areas of the Missouri                and California     regions.      An
earlier      U.S. Geological          Survey paper noted about 40 over-
drawn ground water reservoirs                  in the Western States.         Nearly
all of these were in California,                  Arizona,   New Mexico,      and
        Problems     of     significant     water level       declines  have
also occurred        in     the humid Eastern         States   and the Pacific
Northwest.       For      instance,      Long Island,       New York, an area of
sizable     population         dependent     upon ground water as its major
water source,        is     experiencing      significant      water table de-
       The Federal        Government     has provided      assistance     to the
States     and localities        in increasing     available      water supplies.
This assistance         has been in the form of water resources                de-
velopment     projects        and in such activities         as conjunctive     use
of urban water;         total    water management studies:           and research
in artificial       recharge,      weather modification,          and saline
water conversion.
         The Bureau of Reclamation           and the Corps of Engineers
are the primary         constructing       agencies   for water resources
development      projects.         These agencies,      along with USGS,
Agricultural      Research Service,          and Office     of Water Research
and Technology         (OWRT) are also carrying          out research     in
artificial     recharge,       total    water management (which the
Bureau of Reclamation            said it plans to give high priority),
and weather      modification.          The Bureau of Reclamation         spent
over $4 million         in fiscal     year 1976 for research        projects
under contract        for weather modification           on the High Plains

and in the Colorado        River    Basin   and the Sierra       Nevada
         Generally,      ground water overdrafting       is of a localized
nature     because of varying       geological      and hydrological       con-
ditions.        The ground water problems         in areas we visited
during     this     study are discussed      in the following       sections
of this      chapter.
High Plains   region      of western--- Texas-
----      New Mexico
        The High Plains     region  of Texas and New Mexico is
probably     the best known and most unique area of ground
water overdrafting       in the United States         because of its
geographical     size,   its large dependence         on ground water,
and the lack of a feasible         water supply       for import.     Thus,
proper management to insure         conservation        and planned   use
of the ground water resources           in this    region    are more im-
portant    than in areas where alternative            supplies    of water
may be available       and economically      feasible     to import.
       The High Plains        of western    Texas extending        into eastern
New Mexico is the southernmost             extension     of the Great
Plains    Physiographic       Province    of North America,        which
stretches     from southern       South Dakota into Nebraska,            Kansas,
Oklahoma,     and to the northern         edge of the Pecos River Valley
in Texas.       The High Plains        in Texas covers about 35,000
square miles,       including     the Canadian River Basin and the
upper parts      of the Red, Brazosl         and Colorado     River basins
within    the State.        It averages    about 300 miles       from north
to south and about 120 miles from east to west,                    including
parts    or all of 42 of the State's           counties.
        The Ogallala   Formation,    an interstate     aquifer    system,
underlies    virtually    all of the northern      High Plains      in Texas
and about 22,00U of the 25,000 square miles of Texas'                  south-
ern High Plains.       It extends    into New Mexico,      Colorado,
Oklahoma,    Kansas,   and Nebraska.
         The sole source of recharge           to the Ogallala       is pre-
cipitation,        which is negligible.          Withdrawals    are espe-
cially      la'rge in the major irrigation            areas in the northern
part of the southern          High Plains      and in areas to the south
where municipal         and industrial       water supplies     are pumped.
A June 1975 USGS document reports                that ground water with-
drawals       in the southern     High Plains       of Texas in recent       years
have been 7 to 8 million            acre-feet      per year and the recharge
was perhaps 140,000 to 150,000 acre-feet                   per year.    Extensive

efforts    have been underway to slow the withdrawal                      rate by
increasing     efficiency of water use through  water                    conserva-
tion practices.
          The Texas Water Plan         of November       1968 predicted,        how-
ever,      that if by 1985
              'a supplemental       surface    supply of water
              has not reached the High Plains,          this
              vast area will      have begun an area-wide
              retrogression      to dryland     farming which
              will    have profound      economic consequences
              throughout     the State."
Studies    by Texas A & M University            predict   a potential
economic demand of 6.7 million             irrigated    acres in the
southern     High Plains    alone if water could be made avail-
able at costs which would give irrigators                 an economic in-
centive    to irrigate    rather      than dry farm.       Unless water is
imported     from outside     the area, however,        the studies    pre-
dicted   that irrigation        would begin a severe decline          by
1985, to 2.2 million        irrigated     acres which would be support-
able by ground water available             in 2020.
        The Department          of the Interior           issued a report,
"Critical        Water Problems Facing the Eleven Western States"
 (April     1975),      which states        that the thriving          economy of the
western      Texas-eastern         New Mexico area, which is presently
based on irrigated             agriculture,       is threatened          by a rapidly
declining        ground water supply.             The     report    stated   that irri-
gation      activity      will   start      to decline       about 1980 and that,
nationally,          It* * * significant         social      and economic disloca-
tions     will     occur with this decline              in irrigation       activity."
        According    to the study,      the estimated   1970 population
of the western       Texas-eastern      New Mexico area was about
1.2 million.        For the area as a whole,        per capita   income was
less than the national          average and, generally,       was projected
to decline      over time.      A return   to dryland   farming    could sub-
stantially      reduce the income of the farmers          in the area.
        Considerable      study has been made by Federal,           State,    and
private    organizations        of the possibilities      for importing
water from the Mississippi            River,   the Missouri     River,    Alaska,
Canada, and the Gulf of Mexico.              The Mississippi       River source
had been considered          the most feasible.        The Bureau of Recla-
mation and Corps of Engineers             made a joint    State-Federal
reconnaissance        grade study which was completed           in 1973. L/

A/The study report     is entitled              "West   Texas   and Eastern       New
   Mexico Import  Project."
the study        concluded        that     the economic          and environmental
costs     are so large          that     a plan     to import         water    from the
Mississippi         River     is not justified             in the near         future      and,
more specifically,              not    in time      to rescue         the irrigation          eco-
nomy of the area.               The Texas Water           Plan of 1968 anticipated
that,     with    Federal       assistance,         water     would       be imported       from
the Mississippi            River.        It was believed            that    other     areas
within      Texas are unable             to provide       the High Plains             area with
water.        The Plan also          foresaw      other      areas      in Texas as facing
the prospect         of returning            to dryland        farming      as available
water     supplies       are exhausted.

        The    report      “Critical         Water     Problems       Facing      the Eleven
Western      States”       recognized,          as an alternative             to water        import,
a management          plan     for    the area which           anticipates          the deple-
tion    of the ground            water     aquifer.        The plan        would      need to set
out the management               procedures         and institutional             arrangements
that    should      be adopted          to minimize        the effect         of ground
water     depletion        on the agricultural               economy,       total       economy,
and the environment                of the area.           The plan,        according        to the
report,      should      be developed           in such a manner            that      the aquifer
will    be managed         for     long-term        use.     The report,        recommended

        ”1.     A State-Federal             organization          should     be formed
                to investigate            and define        the ground-water             re-
                source       and make recommendations                 regarding        its
                future       use.     The organization             would     be respon-
                sible      for    considering         the potential          of weather
                modification          procedures,         groundwater          recharge
                projects,         and other       augmentation          opportunities.
                Such an on going             organization          would     have need
                for     both    State     and Federal         financing        but the
                primary        emphasis      would      be on State         control
                and regulation           with     technical        studies       and
                analysis        as required         from Federal          organiza-
                t ions.

        “2.     A State-Federal             interagency          study      be initiated
                to develop         alternative          agricultural           enterprises
                geared      to the long-term              use of ground            water     in
                the High Plains.                Such enterprises              could      in-
                volve:        more efficient            use of water,            adaptation
                of crops        requiring         less    supplemental           waterp
                new methods          of water        application           such as drip
                irrigation,          a more balanced             irrigation         and dry
                farm arrangement,               use of irrigation              only     as
                drought       insurance,         and advanced            agronomic

       " 3.   A Federal   study be made of the national             social
              and economic     impacts of the loss of the
              irrigation    economy of the High Plains           area
              and of the possibilities        of development        of
              alternative    non-agricultural     enterprises        as a
              replacement    for the declining      agricultural
       For fiscal      year 1977, the Bureau of Reclamation   received
$150,000     to begin a total     water management study of the High
Plains    region     of western  Texas-eastern New Mexico.  The
estimated      total   cost is $1 million.
        The principal          objectives       of the study will       be to (1)
determine      the quality         and quantity        of the region's      water
resources,       (2) investigate            the water resources       available
to supplement          the existing         Canadian River Project         supply for
municipal      and industrial            use in the area,       (3) evaluate
present    irrigation          systems and practices           and make recommen-
dations    for more efficient               use of the present       water supply,
 (4) develop       alternative         plans for the most economical            and
beneficial       use of playas           l/ water,     (5) evaluate     the potential
for increasing           water suppiies         by atmospheric      weather modifi-
cation,    and (6) develop             plans for reducing        evaporation      loss
of surface       water supplies.              A report    on the study is sched-
uled for completion             in fiscal       year 1981.
        The Economic Development           Administration,       Department      of
Commerce, was authorized              by Section    193 of Public      Law 94-587
 (dated October      22, 1976) to study the depletion               of the
national     resources     of those regions         of the States      of Colorado,
Kansas, New Mexico,          Oklahoma,     Texas, and Nebraska presently
using the Oqallala         aquifer.       This study,      with the coopera-
tion of the Corps of Engineers,                State and local      agencies,
and the private        sector,      is to develop      plans to increase
water supplies       to assure an adequate national              food supply
and to promote the economic vitality                 of the High Plains
region.     In formulating         these plans,      the act directed
that consideration         be given to all past and ongoing studies,
plans,    and work on depleted           water resources       in the region,
and that an examination            be made of the feasibility           of vari-
ous alternatives        to.provide       adequate water supplies          in the
area including,        but not limited         to, the transfer      of water

L/The sandy, salty,    or mud-caked floor               of a desert       basin with
   interior  drainage,  usually   occupied             by a shallow       lake during
   the rainy  season or after   prolonged,              heavy rains.

from adjacent        areas.    The act also required         a final   report,
with recommendations,          to be transmitted       to the Congress        not
later      than July 1, 1980, on the costs of reasonably               avail-
able options,        the benefits   of various      options,     and the costs
of inaction.         If water transfer    was found to be part of a
reasonable      solution,    a recommended plan to allocate            and
distribute      water in an equitable       fashion      was also to be
       Although   the Congress authorized     $6 million   for this
study,    as of April   1977, no funds have been specifically
appropriated.       Howeverp the Economic Development     Adminis-
trator    has agreed to provide    up to $1.2 million    of fiscal
year 1977 funds that are available        for this type of study.
Potential   problem areas        in
other parts    of the High       Plains
       Situations    similar   to that of western       Texas-eastern
New Mexico are developing         in other parts     of the High Plains.
USGS reported     that the southern      High Plains      in Texas and
New Mexico is typical        of the High Plains      region    as a whole,
except that this area is heavily          developed.        USGS further
stated     that
             "current    and projected         effects    of develop-
            ment in the Southern           High Plains       demonstrate
            the effects       that might be anticipated              in other
            areas of ground-water            mining    (extraction      at
            rates so in excess of replenishment                   that water
            levels    decline     persistently)."
Other   areas will   show similar  development              trends,    particu-
larly   if not regulated   by law.
        A USGS paper entitled            "The Role of Ground Water in the
National    Water Situation"           (1963) stated     that the situation
in western      Kansas (about three-fifths           of the State)     was
similar    to that in the southern            High Plains     of Texas in
the 1930s and 1940s.              The paper stated     also that all of
the High Plains         region,     except perhaps     the Sand Hills     of
Nebraska,     ultimately        faced the same decisions        as the
southern     High Plains        of Texas faced.
        USGS recently     reported    that withdrawals       of ground water
for irrigation       exceed natural      recharge   in large parts       of
western    Kansas.      Continued   withdrawals     at the rate would
deplete     the supply    and seriously      affect   the economy of
the area.      State officials      of Colorado     told us that
areas in the eastern          part of the State,      mostly     the High
Plains,    are having large ground water level              declines.      For

example,   in the Burlington    area, declines      of over 16 feet
were reported    for the period     1964-71.    Withdrawal  of
ground water for irrigation       quadrupled    between 1960 and
1968 in the northern      High Plains    of Colorado.
Other ground water overdraft
areas in StatZZZZZXX-
       Texas, California,          and Colorado          reported        significant
overdrafts     of ground water in areas additional                         to those dis-
cussed above.        For instance,         San Antonio,           Texas--which          had a
population     of about 800,000 --depends                on the Edwards aquifer
for its entire      water supply.            The Edwards provides                water
for public     supply,    industrial         use, and irrigation                in an
extensive    area of south-central             Texas.         USGS has predicted
that if demands for water from the Edwards continue                                to
increase,    as  they   are    likely      to  do     in   this     rapidly       grow-
ing area, the predictive             results     will      be severe declines             in
water levels     during     periods      of drought,           large     reductions       in
the amount of water available                to all users,            reduction       in
flow,    or even periods       of no flow from the springs.
        According     to USGS, projected      ground water require-
ments will      exceed the available       ground water supply in two
areas of Texas:          (1) the High Plains      and (2) the San
Antonio     area.     The 1968 Texas Water Plan projected          that
supplemental       water supplies     must be made available       in the
following      areas no later     than the dates shown:         San Antonio
area (1985),       (2) Corpus Christi      area (1987),     (3) El Paso
area (2000),       (4) High Plains     (1985),    (5) Trans-Pecos     area
(1990),     and (6) the Lower Rio Grand Valley           (1980).
       In 1970, water levels             declined    in areas of 75 of the
93 counties      of Nebraska.           Water levels    were being signifi-
cantly    lowered    in areas of         Box Butte,    Polk, Hamilton,    York,
Clay,    and Filmore     counties.         Areas in the counties       of Adams,
Clay, Chase, Holt,         Dawson,       Buffalo,    and Hall were also
experiencing      declines.
        The State of California,           in its November 1974 water
plan,    reported,     in addition      to the San Joaquin       Valley,      signi-
ficant     overdrafts     in the Tulare      Basin and overdraft         in parts
of the Central        Coastal    area, the Sacramento       Valley,      Ventura
County,     the Upper Santa Ana River Basin,             and Coastal       Orange
County.       Imported   water has enabled        the water levels         in
Santa Clara and Livermore            Valleys    to recover.      It was anti-
cipated     that water would be imported            in the future      to sup-
plement     other areas of overdraft.
       Ground water levels            were declining   in Colorado              mostly     in
the   High Plains  region.            Montana reported   one area              (Great

Falls) of decline while North Dakota,                    South    Dakota,     and
Wyoming noted no areas of overdraft.
        In many areas of the United                 States,     overdrafting      of
ground water has reduced water levels                       from 100 to 600 feet.
Where these declines              have occurred        in unconsolidated        aquifers
containing        many fine-grained          compressible        interbeds,     the
increased       effective      stress     as a result         of ground water with-
drawals     has caused compacting               of sediments       and reduction      in
pore space and the resultant                  sinking     of the land surface.
The aquifers         that have been mostly             affected     are chiefly      con-
fined     aquifer      systems.        Subsidence      may also result       from
withdrawal        of other      liquids,      such as petroleum.
        According      to USGS, significant      subsidence      due to
water level       decline     has occurred    in five   States:     Louisiana,
Texas, Arizona,          Nevada, and California.         Subsidence    has been
the greatest       and most extensive       in the San Joaguin        Valley   of
California.        Maximum subsidence       as of 1972 in the western
part of the Valley          was 29 feet in some areas.           About 5,200
square miles had subsided            with about 4,200 square miles           sub-
siding      more than 1 foot.        The subsiding     areas are underlain
by a confined       aquifer     system in which the artesian          head had
been drawn down by 200 to 600 feet.                Water wells     were as
much as 3,500 feet deep in some areas.
      Other examples of appreciable     land subsidence     are Santa
Clara Valley   (13 feet by 1969),   the Houston-Galveston      area
of Texas (a maximum of 7.8 feet from 1943 to 1973),          and cen-
tral  Arizona  (a maximum of about 7 feet).      Subsidence    in other
areas has generally    been much less.
Adverse     effects
       Land subsidence        has caused large amounts of damage in
some areas totaling         millions     of dollars.          In the Houston-
Galveston     area,    it has resulted        in structural        damage, such
as cracked     buildings      and disrupted       pavements,       damage to
well casings,       and submergence       of coastal       lowlands.      The
Corps of Engineers         reported    that at high tides,           seawater
from Galveston        Bay flows through         a residential       area near
Houston because the area has sunk about 8 feet since 1945.
Some homes have already            been abandoned in one of the area's
subdivisions,         Based on a recommendation            by the U.S. Corps
of Engineers,       the Congress authorized            by Public     Law 94-587,
dated October       22, 1976, the expenditure            of $15,680,000       to
buy out homeowners and convert              the area to a park.

        An example of subsidence             damage in the San Joaquin
Valley    is the necessity            for the Bureau of Reclamation           to
restore     the design capacity           of the Delta-Mendota         Canal.      Be-
tween June 1975 and September                1976, the Bureau awarded six
contracts      totaling        about $3.7 million      for rehabilitation
projects.        For example,         the largest    contract   was awarded on
October     24, 1975, for about $2 million               to rehabilitate        17
miles of the canal.              Another    contract   for about $1.5 million
was awarded on November 4, 1975, to rehabilitate                        8 addi-
tional    miles.        Tilting     of the land surface       had appreciably
reduced the canal water flow.
        A report     issued by USGS stated          that enormously        ex-
pensive     damage to harbor       facilities,        drainage   structure,        and
the like      from land subsidence          may be more expensive          to re-
pair than the expenses related                 to importing    ample good
quality     water supplies.        Large surface         water imports       to
several     subsidence     areas,    such      as San  Joaquin   Valley      in Cali-
fornia,     have greatly      reduced ground water pumping,              resulting
in recovery       of the artesian        head that has slowed or nearly
stopped     land subsidence.
        Saltwater     intrusion     into fresh ground water aquifers                  can
result    from the movement of seawater               into coastal        aquifers
or saline      ground water into inland           fresh water aquifers.
Most intrusion       is caused by (1) the reversal                or reduction        of
fresh water discharge           which allows      the heavier        saline     water
to move into an area where only fresh water previously
existed,      (2) the destruction          of natural     barriers      that
formerly     separated      bodies of fresh and saline              waters,     or
(3) the results        of disposal       of waste saline        water.       The U.S.
Environmental       Protection      Agency has reported           that there have
been significant         saltwater     intrusion      problems.
Seawater  intrusion         of
coastal  aquifers
         Under natural     conditions,        fresh ground water in coastal
aquifers      is discharged       into the ocean at or seaward of the
coastline       and a balance       exists   between the fresh ground
water and saltwater         pressing       in from the sea.          When ground
water levels        are lowered by overdrafting,             natural    drainage,
or impediment        of natural      recharge      by construction      or other
activities,       the fresh water flow to the ocean is reduced.
The saltwater        tends to underride          the less dense fresh water
and, thus, moves into areas where only fresh water previously

       Because of the high salt content            of seawater,   as little
as two percent     of it mixed with fresh ground water can make
that portion     of the aquifer     unusable     based on drinking      water
standards    for total   dissolved    solids.       Only a small amount
of intrusion     can have serious     implications      regarding   the
future    use of an aquifer      as a water supply      source.
        Coastal   aquifers can also be contaminated      by landward
migration      of seawater into rivers   and streams.     Reduction
of stream flow or deepening       of channels   may allow the sea-
water to move inland.
Saline    water     intrusion
                        -------    of
        Large quantities         of saline     water exist     under many
different      geological       and hydrological       environments       in the
United     States.      According    to the Environmental          Protection
%mcy I most of the Nation's                largest    sources   of fresh ground
water are in close proximity               to natural     bodies of saline
ground water.         Intrusion     may occur when saline          water mi-
grates     upward into fresh water aquifers               due to man-induced
changes in the hydrologic            pressure      or the direct      transfer
of saline      waters vertically         through    wells    or other penetra-
--            of-- the problem
        The Environmental         Protection        Agency reported          in 1973
that 42 of the 50 States             have reported         significant         saltwater
intrusion        problems.     Saltwater       intrusion       appears to be a
problem      in all of the coastal           areas and is widespread                in
inland      areas.      On the Atlantic        Coast between Massachusetts
and Florida,          each of the States         had reported       problems        with
seawater       intrusion.      The seriousness           of the problem         is
usually      dependent     on the intensity           of urban and industrial
development,         with resulting       increased       withdrawal       of ground
water.       California      has had many problems            with seawater
intrusion        and has tried      hard to solve or reduce the problem.
Florida      was the most seriously            affected      State,    followed        by
California,         Texasp New York, and Hawaii.
       About two-thirds     of the contiguous        United  States    is
underlain    by saline   waters   containing     high concentrations
of dissolved     solids.   The problem       of saltwater    intrusion
in inland    areas can be the same. as in coastal           areas.
       Because of the relatively     slow movement                   of ground
water,   saltwater  intrusion    may detrimentally                   affect  its

quality   for years under the most favorable          circumstances,         or
many decades in other cases.       The movement of poor guality
water into fresh water supplies        is generally       considered     a
more serious    problem than ground water depletion.               Wells may
have to be abandoned while ample supplies           of water are in
the aquifer.     Declining  water tables    may stabilize          or rise
if pumping is reduced,     but dissolved    contaminants          may be
difficult    or impossible  to remove.     Saltwater       intrusion     re-
duces the amount of fresh water available           for use.

                                     --_---  3
                        STATE       AND FEDERAL ROLES IN
                           GROUND WATER MANAGLpiENT
      Management of ground water resources              has been primarily
a local  and State responsibility         with assistance       from the
Federal  Government.    Major Federal        ground water activities
have been data gathering,       research,      technical    assistance,
and water resources   development.
        Ground water management in the Western States                       has basi-
cally     involved       a degree of regulation           of ground water with-
drawals      and use under the State water rights                   systems.      More
intensive        regulation         has taken place in some areas of se-
vere ground water problems.                   However,    substantial      damage had
already      occurred        in some of these areas and other problem
areas have not received                 needed attention.         Federal    and State
agencies       recognize         the need for improved         ground water manage-
ment.       However,       officials       in many of these agencies          said that
ground water management must improve to provide                         orderly    de-
velopment,         proper      use, and conservation        of the resource.
One constraint           to such improvement--         the lack of more geologi-
cal and hydrological                data-- is discussed      in chapter      4.
         All the States      studied       somewhat restricted          or regulated
ground water withdrawals,               basically        to protect    existing    water
rights,      mainly    by administering           water rights,       well permit
systems,      and well-spacing          requirements,         and by designating
critical      or controlled      ground water basins.                Generally,    the
States      had water programs          that included         ground water data
gathering,       research,     and special         studies,      such as ground water
modeling.        Some also performed            other activities,          such as
weather modification,           artificial          recharge,     and importing      sur-
face water.          The amount of these efforts               varied    from State
to State.        Some of the States           depended on the Federal           Govern-
ment for much of these activities                    while    others   used the Fed-
eral effort        to supplement        their     efforts.
       The type and degree of management varied            from State to
State;   however,  the management in some States          was similar     to
that in others.      For instance,     both North and South Dakota
used a well permit      system,    had the autho-rity    to require
meters,   had a safe-yield      policy   with regard   to withdrawals
from all aquifers,      and limited    the application       of both sur-
face and ground water for irrigation.

         Montana,   Wyoming,            Colorado,      and Nebraska     designated
critical      or controlled             ground    water   basins    for more intensive

        California       and Texas authorized             the establishment              of
public     management        agencies      to manage the ground               water    re-
sources       in a basin        or other     geographical         designation.           Desig-
nation     of controlled          basins     or creation        of local       management
agencies        were usually       at the initiation            of local       water     users
after    problems      developed.          A   brief   description          of   ground
water    management        in four       of the eight       States      we visited         is
shown in appendix            I.

          Because       of varying       geological          and hydrological           condi-
tions,       the Federal         and State       officials         generally        agreed      that
management           at the State        and local         levels     rather      than at the
Federal        level      is preferred.          Widely        recommended        approaches
were      (1) implementation             of conjunctive            use and management              of
surface        and ground        water     resources         and (2) operation            of non-
tributary          ground     water     basins     on a safe-yield            or planned          de-
pletion        basis.        The officials         told      us that      constraints         to
implementing            these    recommendations             were State       water     rights
and lack         of sufficient          detailed       geological         and hydrological


       The Federal     Government          does not have a direct              role    in
the management       of ground       water       resources      except   on public
lands.      It does provide         assistance         to State      and local      agen-
cies   with    management      responsibilities.               The major    contribu-
tions   are providing        data    and technical           assistance     and assist-
ing in increasing         available        water     supplies.

Data     and    technical        assistance -

        U.S.     Geological         Survey

        USGS provides           data      and technical              assistance        for
ground     water     management           through         its     Federal/       State     Coopera-
tive    Program.         Under      this       program,         the Federal         Government
and over       500 State        and local            agencies        share     cooperatively        in
the cost      of USGS‘performing                   investigations             and research
programed        in collaboration               with      State      and local        agencies.
These cooperative             projects           are designed           to provide         the con-
tinuing      appraisal        of water          quantity          and quality         and to im-
prove     hydrological          information             and understanding              and make
the results         available         to Federal,             State,       and local       agencies
for    use in developing,               utilizing,            conserving,         and managing
water     and land resources.                   More than half              of the water
resources     data gathered    in the United      States,    precluding    most
stream gaging,     is provided    by the cooperative         program.     For
fiscal    year 1976, the Federal     contribution         to the coopera-
tive program was $26,954.00.
        Data collection,          analysis,       and dissemination            is a con-
tinuous     process.       Included       in these activities             are 7,400
continuous       record    and 5,400 partial             record     streamflow
stations;      1,200 lakes or reservoir                stations;       3,000 water
quality     stations:      14,000 ground water observations                      wells;
and 12,000 project-type              short-term       wells.        Area resource
appraisals       and problem-related            studies       include     aquifer
modeling,      saline     waters,     waste disposal,            and others
totaling      576 projects        which are usually             completed      in 1 to
3 years and result           in a published          report.        Studies      related
to critical        problems     include      15 projects         on deep waste em-
placement      and 19 on artificial             recharge.
         USGS also performs              water-data         collection,       resources
investigations,             and research        activities           under the National
Water Data System with regard to the public                               domain,    inter-
state      river     basins      and aquifers,          or other areas of inter-
state      or international            concern.        The USGS purpose            is to ac-
quire,       process,       store,     and disseminate            data on the quantity,
quality,         location,       movement,      and changes in water supply,
including          analytical       studies     and appraisals            of local,      re-
gional,        or national         conditions,       with focus on critical               or
urgent       national       water solutions           to water problems           and to ex-
tend the knowledge               of hydrology.           USGS is nearing          comple-
tion of regional              ground water appraisals                 of quantity      and qual-
ity.       Full coverage           of the Nation          is targeted       for fiscal       year
1978.        Under Office          of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular
A-67, USGS is also responsible                      for coordinating            water data
activities          of all Federal          agencies.
         In the critical            national     water problems            program,      USGS
activities          included     monitoring        changes in ground water due to
coal and oil shale mining,                   subsurface         waste storage,         the
availability           of deep ground water supplies                    from the Madison
aquifer        of the Northern           Great Plains,           and an evaluation          of
the geological            physical,       chemical,        and biological         controls
on artificial            recharge      to provide        (1) methods for predicting
the relative           success of proposed             artificial         recharge     facil-
ities      in different         environments         and (2) guidelines             for deter-
mining       treatment       and operating         procedures         at recharge        facili-
ties     to enhance recharge.                USGS officials           told us that about
one-third         of their      projects      directly         relate     to ground water.

               ------------- Water   Research
          ----- Technolou
         OWRT programs    are directed     toward water and water-
related    problems    through    research    and technology   development.
OWRT is also responsible          for coordinating     Department   of the
Interior    water research.
         OWRT performs           its water research              and development         activ-
ities     through       contracts         and grants.          Under Title       I of the
Water Resources            Research Act of 1964 (Public                   Law 88-379)         as
amended, OWRT provided                   noncompetitive          annual funds allotment
to support        one State university               water resources           research       and
training       institute         in each State and in Puerto Rico, the
District       of Columbia,            the Virgin       Islands,       and Guam. In
fiscal      year 1976, $110,000 was allotted                         to each of the in-
stitutes       in the 50 States              and Puerto Rico,           and $40,000 was
allotted       for the District              of Columbia,         the Virgin       Islands,
and Guam. The act provides                      for up to $250,000           in allotments
to each State           institute.           These State institutes              play a major
role in providing              data to ground water managers within                       their
respective        States.          Title     I also authorizes           an appropriation
of $5 million           for matching          grants      to the State institutes               on
a dollar-for-dollar                matching      basis.        In fiscal     year 1976,
about $3 million             was provided          to the institutes           for such re-
search as ground water depletion,                         pollution,      land subsidence,
ground water quality,                  and water use efficiency.
        Title     II of the act authorizes              up to $10 million           for
grants,      matching     grants,       contracts,      or other arrangements
made with academic,            private,       public    or other    institutions,
organizations,         and   individuals         to  do  needed    water     research
work related         to the mission         of the Department         of the Inte-
rior,       About $4.8 million           was appropriated        under title          II in
fiscal      year 1976.       OWRT also operates            a Water Resources            Scien-
tific    Information        Center for disseminating             research       informa-
tion.       Overall,     only about 5 percent            of OWRT's program is di-
rectly      related    to ground water.
         AxLicultural           Research ----
         ARS performs       water resources       research    at research         centers
across      the Nation.        ARS also had seven experimental              watersheds
where     ARS examines       the complete      water cycle,       including       ground
water.        In fiscal     year 1975, ARS had four ground water proj-
ects.       Three of these dealt         with artificial        recharge      and one
with     natural     recharge.     The artificial        recharge      research      was
being     done for Fresnop California             (a ground water dependent
city),      the southern       High Plains     of Texas, and Phoenix.              The
other     project     was a study of how ground water quality                   in

Fresno is affected        by recharge    from overirrigation.        Two other
projects    were related      to ground water as a source of discharge
to streams.      ARS is also doing some cooperative             work with
the Bureau of Land Management on recharging                ground water on
certain  public     lands.      The costs for the four ground water
projects    in fiscal     year 1975 were about $350,000,          not in-
cluding  overhead.
------ MANAGEMENT --
       Although     there are several          areas of effective        ground
water management which present               legal    problems,    the most
obvious     is claims     of water rights         to a supply of water.           It
is not practical        to discuss      in detail       the rules    of water
law in the 50 States.           In many States          such rules have not
been clearly      established.         However,     in some highly       developed
areas with semiarid         climate     and limited        local  supplies     of
water    (such as southern        California),        the rules    applicable
to the use of water have been developed                    in great detail.
       Traditionally,        water rights   have been established                   in
lawsuits      between parties       seeking to control    the use of                a
water supply        inadequate    to both parties'     needs.
             According  to a document published   by the American   So-
ciety         of Civil  Engineers  (ASCE), i/ the following   are prin-
cipal         terms which may be encountered    in discussion   of water
             "1.      Riparian    Right. --Land      adjacent     to a stream,
               river,     or lake is riparian         to that body of water.
              Under the common law, the waters                  of the stream
              are available        on a correlative          basis for the
              use of all riparian            owners.     The right      depended
              on location        of the land and not on prior              use of
              the water.         Accordingly,      the riparian        doctrine
              has a 'dog in the manger'              potential      in the
              event of shortages;            that is, by sole reason of
              location       of the land,       an owner may be able to
              assert      a right    to his share of a limited             sup-
              PlY, to the exclusion             of earlier      development
              from the stream.           As a result,        in most juris-
              dictions       where water litigation            has resulted
              from problems        of shortage,       the rules with re-
              gard to severance          (which terminates          the

&/ASCE--Manuals    And Reports On Engineering     Practice                     - NO. 40
   entitled  "Ground Water Management"     (1972)

        riparian     claim)      and other restrictions     upon
        the riparian        right   have become extremely     tech-
        nical,     generally      to the end of restricting
        application       of the classic     common law rules.
        Overlying   Right. --In     those jurisdictions
        where ground water rules are developed,                the
        overlying   land owner either        possesses      rights
        which are analogous       to riparian        rights   on a
        stream,   or asserts    absolute     title      to water
        under his land.      In either      event,      more recent
        decisions   of the courts       have found theories
        making it possible      to restrict        the arbitrary
        exercise   of dormant rights        of this nature.
        Appropriative        Right. --In        the semiarid          western
        states,     where there was obviously                  insufficient
        local     water to develop         all of the lands,              the law
        of appropriation          was adopted by custom,                 court
        decision,       and statutory         rule.       Basically,        the
        appropriative        right    is a right           based upon pri-
        ority     of diversion      and application              of the water
        to beneficial        use.     It    is    a 'first       come, first
        served'     approach,      whereby a limited              supply      is
        utilized      to its capacity           as the ingenuity            of the
        pioneer     puts it to beneficial               use.      It depends
        on demonstrated         application         of wa,ter to a bene-
        ficial     use, rather      than on location              of lands with
        relation      to the point        of diversion           or use."
         Any attempt        to effectively       manage ground water must take
into account         existing       water rights     unless such rights      are to
be acquired        under the police          or taking    power of the State.
As pointed        out in the ASCE document referred               to above, the
problem     for a ground water manager becomes one of inventory-
ing existing         rights,      and either     accommodating      the management
plan to the existing              framework    of rights,      or revising   the
framework       through       court or legislative        action    if it is too
severe a constraint.                Other means of modifying          legal con-
straints      include       purchase     of rights    and water exchange agree-
       The ACSE document further commented on the legal                              prob-
lems   involving ground water management as follows:
       "In most jurisdictions,           the only sure method of
       defining    the extent       and nature     of a water right
       is through     litigation.        Yet most of the 'historic
       adjudicated       rights'    the manager will     encounter
       arose from limited         lawsuits    involving   two, or a

very few, water users in some limited             area.   The
judgments    involved     are seldom binding      upon the
broad range of water-right           claimants   who may be
included    within    the hydrologic       unit to be man-
aged.    Plenary    adjudications       of all rights   in a
basin are rare.
 "Yet,    in the absence of general             adjudication,      the
 inventory      of rights     is often     a chancy endeavor.
There have been instances             where implementation           of
a management plan has necessarily                  been preceded       by
a general       adjudication      of all rights          in the hydro-
logic     unit.     There have been other            instances   where
the development          of management plans has been
frustrated       by latter-day       assertions        of water rights
which were not fully            accommodated       in the plan.
                *         *         *          *         *

"So long as the supply            remains inadequate           to meet
the demand, however,           the essential      function        of
water rights     remains a critical          factor      in ground
water management.          The manager must recognize
those rights     and adapt his plan for utilization
of the resource        accordingly,      unless means can
be found which are politically,              physically,          and
financially    feasible        to eliminate     the shortage.
If the latter      alternative        can be taken,        the
need to accomodate         the plan to an existing
shortage    can be minimized.           A resource       in sur-
plus supply    has little         need of the legal          tools
for its allocation.
                *         *         *          *         *

"It is almost         instinctive      to assume that lawyers,
water rights,         and litigation      are troublesome
constraints        to be overcome in the formulation             of
a rational       water management plan.           This initial
response      may well obscure the potential            utility
and flexibility          of litigation     as a tool for
water management.              The major water adjudication
within     a hydrologic         unit can, if properly       handled,
offer    a solution        to many organizational       and
financing       problems      which are otherwise      extremely
troublesome.       ”
                *         *         *          *         *

         “Under        circumstances              where     a   water       shortage         has
         been eliminated                 by importation             of supplemental
         supplies          or where          the law of         water       rights        has
         been slow to develop                     because       of ample          local
         supplies        --the        opportunity         for     political           (as dis-
         tinct       from      litigated)          solutions          to the manage-
         ment problem               exists.        In this        situation,            the
         commodity           being       allocated        is    the money avail-
         able      to pay for more expensive                        imported         water,
         or to improve                the quality         of    local       water,        or
         avoid       construction              of surface         storage         and dis-
         tribution           facilities.
                             *            *            *             *            *

         “The political             or utility         approach         has the
         great     attraction           of simplicity.              It avoids
         water     rights        problems       by ignoring           them.
         But it has two essential                    prerequisites:
          (1) There        must be a surplus              of water         physi-
         cally     available          to meet all         current        require-
         ments:      and (2) the water               users     must be will-
          ing to forego            definition        and defense           of their
         water     rights.          The latter         requirement           is what
         has most often             made the political                approach
         unavailable           to the basin          manager.           To imple-
         ment such an approach                  requires       substantial
         salesmanship--           which       may indeed       be a prime
         requisite         for     any successful           basin       manager.”

                          --     -

         Good ground           water      management         involves       use of the resource
with     knowledge         of the probable             effects       of its       use and with
proper      planning         to prevent          or minimize         adverse       effects.           The
Western       States       generally         are recognizing             the need for            better
ground      water       management          and have taken           some steps          in that
direction.           Nebraska’s           recently       enacted       Ground      Water       Manage-
ment Act        (see app.         1) is an example.                Management          of the
ground      water       resources         of the Western            States,       however,        gen-
erally      has been limited                as evidenced          by the numerous              problems
described         in chapter          2.     More intensive            regulation          of ground
water      basins       usually       has been crisis-oriented,                    occurring
when faced          with     a severe        problem,       such as saltwater                intrusion
or declining            water     levels.          Much damage had already                   occurred
in some of these               areas,       and some problems              had not received
needed      attention.

        As water      demands      increase,      ground      water    is expected       to
supply     a greater       portion      of water      withdrawn      for  use.     Thus,
good ground        water     management       may be even more important               in
the future       than    it is today.          Many areas        are beginning      to
experience       ground      water    level    declines       and the number       may
 increase    with     greater      water     demands.

         Problems,       such as saltwater            intrusion,         land    subsidence,
and other        social     and economic         problems        of ground       water
overdrafting          generally        have resulted         because       ground     water
has not been properly                managed     and its       use planned         so as to
prevent       or minimize         these    problems.         Ground      water    over-
drafting       may not necessarily              be undesirable           since    the
water      in storage       otherwise        would    not be used.            However,
when it is not planned                 and the adverse           effects      are not con-
sidered       and dealt       with,     severe     problems       may result.

          Ground     water     management        can be improved             by development
and implementation               of a management            system     to provide       for
the orderly          development,        proper        use,     and conservation          of
ground       water    of all       major   aquifers.            Because      of the vary-
ing geological            and hydrological             conditions        of ground      water,
Federal       and State        officials      with      whom we discussed           ground
water      management        believed      that      the resource          can most ef-
fectively         and efficiently          be managed           at the State       and
local      governmental          levels.       In this        regard,      the National
Water      Commission        recommended         that     ground      water    be managed
through       public      management       agencies.

        The Commission        expressed       no strong        preference      for
management       by a State       agency    or a public          management      dis-
trict    embracing     each critical          aquifer.         The form      of organi-
zation,    according       to the Commission,            should       depend   on the
problems     encountered--hydrological,                institutional,          and
legal.     However,       according      to the Commission,              the more com-
prehensive       the management         needs to be, the more appropriate
 is the district        form of organization             with     oversight      by the
State    Engineer     or a State        agency,

         The Commission           further     recommended        that    the States
adopt      legislation        authorizing        the establishment             of water
management          agencies      with    powers    to manage ground             water
aquifers.           As shown in appendix            1, several        Western       States
have implemented             such legislation          and management            agencies
have been created             for     several    areas     experiencing          substan-
tial     problems.         At the time        of our review,          not all       major
aquifers        were under        the management         of such agencies             and
some of these           were experiencing           problems.         Insufficient

data        as a major      constraint         limiting        ground      water     management
 is     discussed     in    chapter       4.

         The most widely          recommended         improvement         in ground         water
management         mentioned      during      our study       was conjunctive             use
and management.           where possible.           of surface         and ground
waters      e Ground      water     is often      naturally       interrelated            with
surface       water,     and actions        concerning        one source         ordinarily
affects       the other.         These surface          and ground        waters      should
be viewed        as one water         source.       According        to the National
Water       Commission.      ground      water    basins      cannot      be managed          as
effectively          as isolated       units,     but must be integrated                  with
management         of surface       water     supplies.

        Conjunctive         use can also             increase       available         water
supplies        in a hydrological              area.       A ground         water     basin     in
which      the aquifer        has been drawn down has value                         as a storage
reservoir.            The aquifer        can be recharged               from surface          water
supplies        to utilize       the unused            capacity.          A basic      objective
of conjunctive           management          would       be that      during      times     of
heavy precipitation              or high surface               water      flows,      water     in
excess       of surface       water      rights        or needs would            be used to
recharge        the aquifer,         rather       than     leaving        the area.         During
this    time      of surplus       surface        water,       ground       water     pumping
would      stop     to the extent          that     needs can be met by such
surplus      a In times        of low surface              runoff      and short         sup-
plies      of surface       water,      ground        water      could      be used to
satisfy        water    demands     of those          who normally           pump ground
water      and those       who normally           withdraw        surface        water    but
whose requirements             cannot        be satisfied           from surface          water

          A Commission         report      entitled        “A Summary-Digest              of
State      Water  Laws”        stated:

          “While      the law has been slow              in     requiring,      or even
          permitting,       State     administrators              to manage ground
          water      basins   conjunctively          with       surface    water-
          course,       no one seriously          disputes          the need for
          such con j unct ive management.              ”

         Legal,     administrative,               and economic          problems         may also
arise     when different            laws and economies                are established
on the basis         of each source.                 For example,           in States,         such
as Colorado,         surface        water      rights      generally          have     a  higher
priority        than ground         water      rights       because       they     were estab-
lished      at an earlier           date.         The   State     could       prohibit       the
use of ground          water      from certain            surface-water-connected
aquifers        when all      surface         water     rights     cannot        be met.
This     can cause       economic        difficulty           for   those       dependent
upon ground         water.

         The Commission,          in its     comprehensive           study      of the
Nation’s        water   resources       problems       and needs,         made several
recommendations           designed      to improve         ground      water      management.
With     regard      to conjunctive        use,     the Commission            recommended
that     State     laws should        be amended       to provide         for     integrating
the rights         in both surface         and ground         waters      and that         uses
of both       should    be administered           and managed          conjunctively.
These laws and regulations,                  stated      the Commission,              should
provide       for maximum use of the combined                    resource,          where
possible,        by authorizing         or requiring          users     to substitute
one source         of supply      for   the other.

                                       CHAPTER 4
             GROUND WATER DATA--A
             -v-----m-                         CONSTRAINT TO IMPROVING
                            -      WATER MANAGEMENT
        Although    much ground water data has been collected               by
Federal      and State agencies    and others,     we were told during
our study that substantially         more geological       and hydrological
data--primarily       of a more specific     and detailed      nature--will
be needed to provide        for the orderly      development,     proper use,
and conservation       of ground water resources.          According      to
Federal     and State officials,     the lack of such specific            and
detailed      data is a major constraint       to improving     ground water
         Proper management of an aquifer                requires       a detailed
geological          and hydrological      description        of the aquifer.
This would include            the aquifer      boundaries,        thickness,      satura-
tion,      quality,     and storage      capacity;      quantities       available
to wells        under existing       technology;      amounts and points           of
natural      recharge      and discharge:        and interrelationships            with
surface      waters.       Ground water managers also need to know the
feasibility          of (1) importing       water,    (2) artificial          recharge,
and (3) other means of increasing                  available       water supplies
in the area.
        Once a management system has been implemented,               monitor-
ing of the quantity        and quality     of the ground water is nec-
essary,     For instance,      the safe-yield    of an aquifer       is usu-
ally    not a single,    fixed    rate of withdrawal    but is a variable
rate depending      upon many complex and interrelated           factors.
A system based on a safe-yield           use of an aquifer     requires
monitoring    because one or more of the interrelated              factors
may change.
        The type of information       indicated    above is needed to
serve,    along with economic,       social,    and political       considera-
tions,    as the basis for management of an aquifer,                aquifer
system,    or ground water basin.          With these data,       decision-
makers can determine         the most effective     and efficient         means
to provide      for the orderly    development,     proper      use, and con-
servation     of ground water to prevent         or minimize      ground water
problems.      The California     Water Plan--Outlook         in 1974 (Novem-
ber 1974) states:

       "In developing         ways in which ground water can be
       used to help meet water demands, the collection,
       analysis      and verification     of a large amount of
       geologic,       hydrologic,    and water quality   informa-
       tion    is necessary***Local       agencies   have bene-
       fited     mainly    by being able to make decisions       on
       ground water management based on fact instead               of
        An example of the need for geological                    and hydrological
information       is illustrated        by the following.             USGS identi-
fied five methods for controlling                  seawater      intrusion,       a
major problem        in many areas.         These methods were (1) reducing
ground water pumping in the coastal                    area,    (2) artificially
recharging      the aquifers,        (3) modifying         the pumping pattern,
 (4) maintaining        a pressure      ridge of fresh ground water above
sea level     in the intruded         aquifers       along the coast,           and (5)
establishing        a pumping trough         adjacent      to the coastline.
The first     four methods control            intrusion       by maintaining
ground water levels           above sea level.            The last method uses
a ground water trough            near the coastline           to block the land-
ward migration         of seawater.
       Geological     and hydrological       data are necessary           to
determine,     among other things,        the ground water level             neces-
sary to keep out the seawater,            the quantity        of ground water
that can be pumped and still           maintain      the proper      water level,
the means and desirability          for artificial         recharge,      and the
best location      for the pumping trough.             This information        should
be available      before  the seawater       intrusion       occurs so that ac-
tion can be taken to prevent           such intrusion         before    it damages
fresh water supplies.
       This type of information,             if properly     presented,     can be
instrumental      in obtaining      public     understanding      of and support
for needed measures to solve,              prevent,     or minimize     ground
water problems.         Voluntary    improvements        in ground water man-
agement (such as conjunctive             management and use of surface
and ground waters        and the establishment           of management agencies
for major aquifers         or ground water basins)           often may require
the willingness        of water users to accept a change in the water
rights     system and to provide         the funds needed for such actions
as artificial       recharge     and water import.         The public      must see
the need for and the benefits              of improving      ground water manage-
      Water is an important       asset,   especially     in the semiarid
Western States.      Those with established         water rights  can
be expected   to be reluctant       to agree to any change in the
water rights    system for fear of losing         all or part of their
right  or its priority     standing.      Owners of water rights      may

not approve      giving   a management       agency     regulation     authority
over  their   rights.       Therefore,     action     at the State      level                   may
be needed   to obtain       improved    ground    water     management     and
good data   will      be needed     to support     such action.

         Although     large   amounts       of ground    water    data  is available,
many Federal         and State    officials         have expressed     a need for
more data.          Much of this      need is for data more specific              and
detailed       than   that  already       obtained.

       For instance,             a North     Dakota    official       told   us that     the
State   will    require         modeling      of aquifers         in the future      in order
to carry     out its         policy     of   operating       aquifers      on a safe-yield

          USGS said         that      information       on the continually             chang-
ing quantity            and quality            of water     resources        is needed       for
effective          planning,         design,      development,         management,         and use
of ground          water       resources.         Available       information,         according
to USGS, is still                 inadequate        for both      applying       hydrologic
principles           and understanding             area occurrence             of water,       and a
major       effort      in ground           water  research       and investigation              will
have to be undertaken                     if ground     water     reservoirs        are to ful-
fill      their      potential          as elements       of comprehensive,            multipur-
pose water           development.

        In its       1973 budget       justification,         USGS reported       that            the
average       percent       of current       ground     water  data     and information
being      met on a nationwide             basis      was as follows:       resource
appraisal,         40 percent:        subsurface        waste  storage,     5 percent;
and system         studies,     20 percent.


         USGS has been providing               ground     water    data     to managers
for many years         through      its     Federal/State         cooperative       program.
According        to USGS, this        program       provides      over half      of the
Nation’s       water   resources        information         base and is a continuing
program      which   responds       directly        to changing       and increasing
demands      of Federal,       State,       and local       agencies     for   information
essential        to water    resources         decisionmaking.           Cooperative
projects       are jointly       planned       by State       and Federal      representa-
tives     and are designed          to fulfill         specific      needs.

        The Commission,          in its     June 1973 report,          recommended
that    Federal     appropriations           for    the Federal/State        cooperative
program     be increased         to meet the amount           of matching       funds
offered     by the States.          States       had been offering        funds    for
Federal     matching      in excess        of Federal     appropriations.

As shown by the table    below, fundin-j                 offered     by the States
for the cooperative   program exceeded                   available     Federal   funds.
    Fiscal                         matching     funds                State funalng
                               (actual    obligations)                   offered
      1974                               $24.9                             $25.9
      1975                                25.9                              28.5
      1976                                26.9                              29.7
      1977   (bud.    est.)               27.8                              30.8
       The Federal     funds listed      above are for both surface       and
ground water activities        funded under the cooperative         program.
In fiscal     year 1975 USGS funded about 290 ground water
and ground water related         projects     under the cooperative     pro-
gram.     These projects     amounted to about $9 million         and were
with 48 States,      Guam, and Puerto Rico--an         average of about
$180,000    per State.      Many of these projects       were continuous
or multiyear.
        Many of the States     have agencies        that perform      duties
similar    to USGS under the Federal/State             cooperative      pro-
gram.     Some of these States        have large staffs        while    other
States    work through   universities,        contract     out for such serv-
ices,    or depend largely     on USGS. Generally,            most offi-
cials    we interviewed    said that the Federal/State              cooperative
program has been an important           program to the States.
         Ground water data are relatively             difficult        to obtain
and more costly       than comparable        surface      water data.         USGS
officials      told us that the average ground water study takes
about 3 years to complete.             Several     State officials           pointed
out the lack of available           State funding         for obtaining         needed
data and indicated        that providing        the data is the proper               role
of the Federal       Government     in ground water management.                   USGS
and the Commission        have pointed       to a lack of ground water
hydrologists       as an additional      constraining           factor     to obtain-
ing sufficient       geological     and hydrological            data,    along with
Federal      and State budgetary       constraints        and the time        required.
        It is recognized       by Federal,     State,    and local   officials
that improvements        are needed in ground water management and
that this will       require    substantially       more geological      and
hydrological      data.      However,     the extent    of these needs, the
resources     involved,      and priorities      for data collection        and
analysis     have not been determined.

      During this       study,   we observed   that Federal      and State
Government     agencies     do not appear to systematically          identify
areas experiencing         ground water problems,     or areas receptive
to improved ground water management practices,                for assign-
ing priorities      for Federal     assistance    in obtaining     the type
of ground water data needed for improved ground water

                                 CHAPTER 5
                       -----   FOR FUTURE STUDY
       The information       developed     in connection   with this
review    indicates    that there are a number of significant
questions      which warrant     attention     and study in future
planning     and administration         of water resource   development.
      1.   Should    the Federal     Government take a more active
           role in     ground water management?      If so, what
           should    its role be and what agency or agencies
           should    be responsible?
      2.   Should future   construction   of Federal    water re-
           source projects   depend on whether    the State(s)
           show that their   laws provide   for integrating     sur-
           face and ground water rights?
      3.   How crucial   is an inventory    of water rights             to
           proper  management of ground water?        Should          the
           Government  be responsible    for inventorying             these
      4.   Should the Federal      Government    systematically
           identify     areas with ground water problems          to as-
           sign priorities     for Federal    assistance       in obtain-
           ing ground water data?
      5.   Should there be a national          water policy   requiring
           all Federal   agencies     involved     in water planning      or
           construction    activities      to require   use and manage-
           ment of surface      and ground waters      as a unit?       If so,
           how should such policy        be implemented?
      6.   Should water be transfered           from one river basin to
           another to reduce ground          water pumping or to re-
           charge aquifers?
      7.   Is enough    being done to identify  and prevent  the
           intrusion    of saltwater into ground water supplies?
      8.   Should     (or can) Federal          programs    be devised    which
           provide      incentives        to decrease    dependency    on irri-
           gation     farming      in water-short       areas?    How important
           is irrigation         to the national        economy?     Is it fea-
           sible    to compensate           for decreased    farm production
           in such areas by increased               farm production     in areas
           not requiring         irrigation?

          These quest ions,            involving      basic    policy,         warrant
consideration             by the Congress.            Some,    we   believe.          are most
appropriate           for    consideration         by the Federal           and State         agen-
cies      responsible          for planning        and administering              water     pro-
grams.        Others        may be more suitable            for undertaking              by pri-
vate      research        associations         or academic       institutions.              The
questions         are presented            in order     to assist        in focusing
attention         on matters         requiring      further     study       and analysis.
We will       be considering             these   questions       in future          reveiws      of
water-related             issues.

         On April       18, 1977,        the President         of the United      States
reported        the results         of a review         he had made of 32 Federal
water     resource        projects       and noted        that   some of the projects
would     bring      water     to areas       where     there    are no State     ground
water     management         programs.          In the case of one of the
projects        reviewed       (the     Central     Arizonia      Project),    one of the
President’s          recommendations            was to make further         Federal
funding       contingent         upon further        study     of ground    water    sup-
plies     and institution             of ground      water     regulations     and manage-
ment by the State              of Arizona.

         The President       indicated      that    he was recommending           the
development       of major       policy   reforms       in the area of water           con-
servation      including      wise ground        water    management.         We be1 ieve
that     in development        of the major       policy     reforms,      recommended
by the President         for     better   ground      water    management,      consi-
deration     and study       should     be given      to the eight      questions
set forth      in this     chapter.


        Officials        of the Water            Resources          Council,         USGS, and the
Bureau      of Reclamation           concurred          generally           with     this      report.
Water     Resources        Council       officials           stated       that     our report
offered       a valuable        overview         to the ground              water      situation
in the Western          States.          They emphasized                that     ground       water
problems        are not just         limited         to the Western              States        but also
occur     in the East         (the     map on page 6 was provided                          by the
Council       to highlight         this      point).          Officials          of USGS stated
that    the report        provided         a comprehensive                discussion          of ground
water     and that      USGS should            have prepared              this     type of report
some time         ago.     USGS officials              said     that      although         the report
did not deal with            ground       water        quality,         this     subject         was
equally       as important         as ground           water      supply.

       Although         our review     was primarily               concerned    with   the
ground     water      supplies      of the Western              States,     we do recognize
that   ground        water    problems    occur   in          the Eastern      States    and

that the problem of ground water quality       is equally   important
as that of supply.     We further   believe that any study of
the eight    questions set forth  in this chapter    should be
national   in scope and, where applicable,     ground water
quality   should be considered.

APPENDIX I                                                                APPENDIX I

               MANAGEMENT IN FOUR OF THE EIGHT STATES                         :
                                    WE VISITED
         In Nebraska,     surface     and ground waters are public
property     that may be appropriated           for beneficial      use.
Registration        of wells     with the State and well spacing           of
at least     600 feet apart         is required    of all wells.       (Reguire-
ments in critical        areas may be more stringent.)              Nebraska
water laws recognize           to some extent      the relationship      of
surface     and ground waters by placing             wells within     50 feet
of a stream bank under the jurisdiction                   of the stream appro-
priation     doctrine.
          Under Nebraska's           Ground Water Management Act of 1975, a
Natural      Resources        District       (of which there are 24 covering
the State)        may initiate          action    to have an area within        the
District       designated        as a critical        area because it believes
ground water supplies                are inadequate.          The State Director,
after      a public      hearing,       may make such a designation         because
ground water levels              are declining        or have declined     exces-
sively,      conflicts        between users are occurring             or may occur,
water is being wasted,                 or conditions       exist  or may arise
that require          regulation        for the protection        of the public
interest.         Within      60 days after         designating    an area as
critical,       the District           must hold hearings        on the type of
controls       needed.
        The District        may, with the State Director's                approval,
determine       the permissible      total    withdrawals         of ground water
 in the critical         area, apportion      withdrawals         among the ap-
propriators        holding    valid  rights,      require     and specify       a
system     of rotation       of use of ground water,            institute      well-
spacing      requirements      more restrictive         than the 600 feet al-
lowed by a 1957 State law, or any other regulation                           deemed
necessary.         If considered     necessary,       the District         may ban
well drilling         for 1 year after       public     hearing      and upon ap-
proval     of the State Director.            This ban may be extended               for
l-year     periods      or removed whenever conditions               warrant    it.
      If the District        does not adopt controls         within     a year
after   designation     of a critical     area, the State Director
may specify      the controls     for the District      to enforce.        In
any event,     the District      must consult    appropriate        Ground

APPENDIX        I                                                                          APPENDIX           I

Water    Conservation      Districts                 and,  if possible,               use studies
conducted     and data     collected                 by the conservation                 districts
before    adopting    controls.

        The act also        requires       a drilling          permit    for     any well    in
the critical        area having        a capacity          of over      100 gallons       a
minute.         The State     Director       may deny a well            application       if    it
would     conflict     with    adopted        regulations          or if the proposed
use is not considered              beneficial.            The act further           gives
the District        taxing     powers      within       a critical       area to cover
administrative         costs.

        According      to USGS, Nebraska     has not designated                               any     area
as critical:       however,    one petition     has been denied                              and
another      is currently    being  considered.


        Under     the common-law            doctrine       of riparian           rights,       ground
water     in Texas       is private         property       and is subject              to capture
and use by owners             of the overlying             surface,        their       agents,       or
assignees.          However,        to cope with          excessive        competition           for
limited      supplies       of ground         water     in the semi-arid               parts     of
Texas or to resolve               other     ground      water      problems,         the State
was resorting          to limited          management         in some areas.               The
State     authorized        groups        of water      users      to form       underground
water     conservation          districts         to regulate         well     spacing        and
production        and to preserve,             protect,         recharge,        and prevent
ground      water    waste.

        The Underground               Water       Conservation             Districts          Act of
1949 was enacted               by the Texas Legislature                       to provide            for
the creation            of underground              water     conservation              districts        as
a means of local               regulation           and administration                  of ground
water.         (In 1973 the act was amended primarily                                   to allow
for    control        of land surface               subsidence          caused        by withdrawals
of ground         water.)          The Texas Legislature,                     the Texas Water
Rights      Commission,             and county         commissioners’                courts       have
the authority             to create         districts.            Initiation            of such
action      usually         results       from      a petition          by the users              of the
water.         In all       cases,      the Water         Rights        Commission            must first
delineate          the underground              water     reservoir           or subdivision             of
it.     The aquifer            proposed         for    regulation           must have ascertain-
able boundaries               and must be capable                 of yielding             at least
150,000        gallons        a day to a well.

         Only the Texas     Legislature       or the Water   Rights       Commis-
sion     may create   underground       water   conservation    districts
that     emcompass  all   or parts      of two or more counties.            The

 APPENDIX I                                                                        APPENDIX I

 respective      county commissioners'     courts are responsible    for
 creation      of such districts    whenever the aquifer    (or sub-
 division),      as delineated   by the Water Rights     Commission,
 lies    wholly   within   one county.
          Each underground             water district           may make and enforce
  rules     to provide         for conserving          preserving,          protecting,
  recharging,         and preventing          waste of ground water.                    It may
  enforce       its rules        by injunction,         mandatory         injunction,         or
  other appropriate              remedy in a court of competent                     jurisdic-
  tion.       In carrying          out their       responsibilities,             districts
  may acquire         land; construct            dams; drain         lakes,      depressions,
  draws, and creeks:               and install        pumps and other equipment
  necessary        to recharge          the aquifers.           Districts        may also
-hire     professional           engineers       to make needed surveys                 of
  the aquifers          and facilties          in order to determine                water
  quantities         available        for use and to determine                 the improve-
  ments, development,               and recharging         needed by the aquifer.
          Comprehensive     plans for most efficiently         using ground
 water and for controlling            and preventing     its waste may
 be developed       by the districts.         They may also carry out
 research     projects,     develop    information,   and determine
 limitations       on ground water withdrawals.            The plans and
  information      developed    may be published     and brought     to the
 attention      of ground water,users         in the districts     and urged
 for adoption       and use.
          Other management tools        available      to the districts       are
 requirements        for a well permit,       logs of well production           and
 ground water use, and the authority                to levy and collect
 taxes on property          in the district       and to issue bonds.         Well
 permits     may be used to regulate          spacing    or production      of
 wells.      Wells producing      less than 100,000 gallons            a day are
 exempt from such requirements.               Any person,     firm,    corpora-
 tion,     or association      of persons     affected     by or dissatisfied
 with a provision         of the act or a rule made by a district                is
 entitled      to file    a suit against      the district      or its direc-
         As 'of April     1975, six underground       water districts          had
 been created       in the High Plains       area of Texas.           Another    had
 been established         to regulate    development       of the Edwards
 aquifer     in the San Antonio       area.     However, only three of
 the six in the High Plains           are considered        operational       or
 active.       In 1975 the Texas legislature           established        the
 Harris-Galveston        Coastal    Subsidence    District,      whose board
 is to control        the amount of ground water drain              from the
 aquifers      in the Houston area.         Houston is also constructing

APPENDIX I                                                              APPENDIX I

a system of canals          and aqueducts       to   import    water    from    the
Trinity  River.
       The High Plains     Underground       Water Conservation           District
No. 1, estabished       in 1951, covers all or part of 15 southern
High Plains    counties     in Texas,     and contains        5,215,600      acres
 (8,149 square miles).         The District        is primarily       concerned
with the orderly      development     and conservation           of ground
water pumped from the Ogallala            aquifer.       During     its early
yearsp the District's         primary   efforts      were educating        water
users as to the nature         and severity       of the overdraft         prob-
lem and the need to conserve          water.
        All landowners     in the District       are required          to pay a
$10 deposit       and secure a permit      before    drilling        a well ca-
pable of producing        more than 100,000 gallons            of water a
day.     The permitted     well must be spaced from all existing
wells     in accordance    with its permitted        capacity.           The
deposit      is returned   to the applicant       after      a driller's     log
and well-completion        report  are received        by the District.
        In carrying     out its responsibilities,               the District        per-
forms such duties         as maintaining         an 800 unit water-level
observation      program;       conducting      numerous specialized          studies
involving     well completion,          ground water availability,              con-
tamination,      and other geologic,            geochemical,        and hydrologic
studies:    and carrying         out water abatement          and artificial
recharge    programs.         In 1954, the District           initiated      efforts
to secure an income tax allowance                 for the taxpayer's          cost
in the amount of the aquifer               beneath his property           that was
dewatered     annually      as a result       of water pumped to create
income.     A recent      survey by the District             showed that the an-
nual income tax allowance             and rebate      to taxpayers         in several
of the counties        within      the District      approach       $800,000    a
     Ground water was considered       to be privately       owned for
many years.   However,  both underground        streams    and percolat-
ing waters are now subject     to appropriation        for beneficial
use undermthe  same procedures    applicable       to surface   waters.
        The State operates       a water permit     system under the ap-
propriation     doctrine.       Permits  are processed     by the State
Engineer    who recommends rejection         or acceptance      to the State
Water Commission,         which consists    of the Governor       and five
appointed    commissioners.         The State Engineer,     an appointee
of the Governor,        may also stipulate     various    conditions      to

APPENDIX         I                                                                            APPENDIX           I

be met before     the permit     becomes    a perfected   permit   after
4 years   of probational      use.    A permit     can be issued   by
the State   Engineer     over  the rejection       of the Commission.

         In making       or denying           awards      of permits,          consideration
is given        to water       availability           and crop and precipitation
patterns.           A 4-year       use pattern          is monitored           by the State
before       declaring       the right         perfected         or a permanent              property
right.         A portion       of the right           may not be challenged,                    if not
used,      although      total       abandonment          will     cause the right              to
revert       back to the State.                Water      (both      surface       and ground
water)       applied     for     irrigation         is generally           limited         to 1
cubic      foot     a second       for     each 80 acres           of land       irrigated
not to exceed           3 acre       feet     per year,        for    a specific           time     in
each year.

         Although        the State     operates              under   the appropriation
doctrine,         there      has never    been            a call   placed     on the State
water      rights       system.     In other              words,   the water      resources
have not been developed                to the             extent   that   all   rights      can-
not be satisfied.

         There      are 59 local            water      management            districts          which
manage drainage               projects        and surface           reservoirs.               Ground
water      problems,          however,        are the responsibility                       of the
State      Engineer.            The lack         of ground         water       problems         is at-
tributed        to the past            low development              rate        in the State            and
the fact        that      the current            administrative              framework          existed
before       accelerated           development1              State      officials            expect       that
the State         will      require        modeling        of critical              aquifers        in the
future       and that         the administrative                system         will      evolve       into
a ground        water       management           process.          Management,             according
to the State            officials,          will      actively        focus         on water        users
and optimal            applications           of the resource                in addition            to
operating         the aquifer            at a sustained             yield         level.        They
said     that     a sustained            safe-yield          level      will        be determined
by the political                process       with      technical         input        by the
State      Engineer.

         Water meters     were required                     on all     high-yield        wells
after     June 1, 1975.       This   could                  allow    close     monitoring              on
pumpage which       could    be correlated                      with   effects     on the


          California       operates   under  the principle                          of   correlative
rights,        a variant      of the common-law    doctrine.                           The rights
of all       owners      of land over    a common basin,                         saturated        strata,

APPENDIX I                                                             APPENDIX I

or underground    reservoir    are coequal.    One landowner   cannot
extract   more than his share (even for use on his lands)
where the rights     of others    are injured  nor can he claim
more than his share on the basis of peculiar          benefit  to
him from its use.       In a time of shortage,    all the landowners
would share the shortage       proportionally.
         The State's    primary    method for regulating      or managing
ground water is approval           of local   public  management agencies
with the authority         to manage a particular      basin,   county,   or
other pertinent       geographical      area through   such practices      as
water conservation         measures,    buying and selling     water,   im-
porting     water,   recharging     ground water,    and constructing
        The Orange County Water District,           one of these public
management agenciesp       was formed in 1933 by an act of the
California     Legislature    to provide     management and conserva-
tion of the ground water basin,           including     both quality    and
quantity     of water and the protection          of Orange County's
water rights      in the natural     flows of the Santa Ana River.
The District      is governed    by a lo-member      Board of Directors
representing     areas within     the District.
         Some of the major activities             of the District         were pur-
chasing     water from outside         the basin for artificial              recharge,
recharging      with Santa Ana River water,             constructing         seawater
intrusion     barriers,     constructing       a wastewater        reclamation       and
seawater     desalting    facility,       operating     several      multipurpose
recreational       use projects,       and planning      in advance.           These
activities      were financed       by two methods.
        Under its legislative         act,   the District        can levy and
collect    a replenishment       assessment      on water extracted          from
the ground water basin.            These funds must be used to purchase
supplemental      water to recharge        the basin,       or to construct,
operate,     and maintain      water production       facilities        and acquire
water rights      and facilities       used to replenish          and protect
the ground water supply.            The District      also levied         ad valorem
(property)     taxes to pay for management costs,                 capital    invest-
ment of projects        required    in basin protection           programs,     and
water rights      acquisition.        The District      is empowered to is-
sue bonds but has never used this authority.
        With regard to ground water             management,      the California
Water    Plan of 1974 states  that:
        "Efficient          management of surface      and ground water re-
        sources      will     require  comprehensive     investigation  of the

APPENDIX I                                                              APPENDIX I

     institutional,         legal,    economic,       and financial
    'effects       of management proposals***Although
     ground water management at the lowest possible
     governmental        level     is frequently       advantageous,
     regional       management may be necessary             in many
     areas if maximum use of ground water resources                        is
     to be achieved.           Regional     authority      might be es-
     tablished       by (a) legislation,          (b) stipulation        by
     a coalition       of adjacent       water service        agencies,
     or (3) the legislative             processes      associated     with
     water rights       permits      administered       by the State."


APPENDIX II                                                                    APPENDIX II


                                                               Tenure        of office           -
                                                               From                      -To

                        DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
    Cecil   D. Andrus                                  Jan.       1977          Present
    Thomas S. Kleppe                                   Oct.       1975          Jan.           1977
    Stanley    K. Hathaway                             June       1975          Oct.           1975
    Kent Frizzell      (acting)                        May        1975          June           1975
    Rogers C. B. Morton                                Jan.       1971          May            1975
    Fred J. Russell       (acting)                     Dec.       1970          Jan.           1971
    Walter   J. Hickel                                 Jan.       1969          Nov.           1970
     R. Keith Higginson                                Apr.           1977       Present
     Donald Anderson      (acting)                     Feb.           1977       Apr.    1977
     Gilbert   Stamm (note a)                          Apr.           1973       Feb.    1977
     Ellis   L. Armstrong                              Nov.           1969       Apr.    1973
    Vincent E. McKelvey                                Dec.           1971       Present
    William A. Radlinski             (acting)          May            1971       Dec.    1971
    William Pecora                                     Sept.          1965       May     1971
                        DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
    Bob Bergland                                       Jan.           1977       Present
    John Knebel    (acting)                            Oct.           1976       Jan.          1977
    Earl L. Butz                                       Dec.           1971       Oct.          1976
    Clifford   M. Hardin                               Jan.           1969       Nov.          1971
    Orville   L. Freeman                               Jan.           1961       Jan.          1969
                         DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY
    Clifford   L. Alexander,           Jr.             Feb.           1977       Present
    Martin   R. Hoffman                                Aug.           1975       Feb.          1977
    Howard H. Calloway                                 May            1973       July          1975
    Robert F. Froehlke                                 July           1971       May           1973
    Stanley   R. Resor                                 July           1965       June          1971
a/Served    as Acting    Commissioner           from    April         to May 1973.

APPENDIX II                                             APPENDIX II

                                            Tenure    of office-
                                            From               -To
     Lt. Gen. John W. Morris         July      1976       Present
     Lt. Gen. William  C. Gribble,
        Jr.                          Aug.      1973      June        1976
    Lt. Gen. Frederick   J. Clarke   Aug.      1969      July        1973

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