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Water Distribution on the Earth

In my last attempt to get everyone on board with smart and conservative water usage, I know it is hard for all of us to come around to that way of thinking when we as a country are surrounded by water. We all know that the water cycle will continuously return the water to the Earth. It just is not always returned to the same place. What is the danger of that? Forty of our states project water shortages over the next ten years. The time to think about water is now prior to having a shortage.

The largest aquifer in the United States and one of the worlds great aquifers, the Ogallala Aquifer, is rapidly being depleted. This aquifer is being depleted by agricultural and municipal water use. Because of our widespread irrigation farming uses 94% of groundwater use. The Ogallala lies under eight of our breadbasket states in central United States and covers about 174,000 square miles. If spread across the entire fifty states, the water would be 1.5 feet deep. If drained, the Ogallala would take 6000 years to refill naturally.

It was originally filled millions of years ago during the glacier ages and the melting of the glaciers. It is “geologic water” and it is the same as our oil. We started running out when we pumped the first barrel of water or oil. Our farmers are trying to make a living and right now we are a food producer for the world but using up a finite resource. It is like making a bargain with the devil. You let us produce as much food as we can right now and we are willing to mortgage our great grandchildren’s future and realize they will grow up living in a desert. Think about it. Our great grandchildren won’t grow up here. How can they without water?

The usage of this finite resource continues to grow and in some places farmers are withdrawing four to six feet of water per year. About one half inch is put back. The farmers that realize the immensity of this problem have gone to very innovative farming that lets computerization tell them when their crops need water.

All of us need education on these problems and we all have to do our part to make sure we are sustainable. That sustainability centers on having adequate water. We can make a difference.

Rick R. Redalen, M.D.

Pick up a copy of my book “God’s Tiniest Angel and the Last Unicorn,” available on Amazon.

Dr. Rick is a retired American physician, entrepreneur and philanthropist who has done mission work around the country and around the world. He is now on a mission to improve healthcare in America. Visit or email him at

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