Spring 2022 Well Measuring Results
The static water levels of 33 irrigation wells located throughout the Lewis and Clark Natural Resources District (LCNRD) are measured in the spring and fall each year. Groundwater levels measured this spring indicate that the levels have decreased on an overall comparison by 2.3 feet from the spring of 2021 with all but 2 wells showing a decrease.
There are multiple aquifers in the LCNRD from where water is pumped for irrigation use including widely distributed sand and gravel, Missouri River Alluvium, Niobrara Bedrock, and Dakota Sandstone aquifers. In the sand and gravel aquifers all but two of the wells monitored showed a decrease in water levels, the average decline was 1.9 feet. All the other wells, in each of the aquifers monitored, showed declines. The Missouri River Alluvium was down on average 2.7 feet, the Niobrara Bedrock Aquifer averaged 2.3 feet of decline and the deeply buried Dakota Sandstone showed a decline of 4.7 feet. The 2022 spring water levels, although lower than recent years, remain above the recorded lowest spring levels prior to the drought conditions of 2012. The average water levels for the spring of 2022, considering all wells measured, are 1.9 feet higher than the spring 2013 readings which was the first year after the 2012 drought.
Groundwater levels of irrigation wells are monitored and recorded by the LCNRD to monitor potential fluctuations in water levels. A downward trend observed over a period of 5 years or a significant decline over 2 years would be considered cause for concern. Increased irrigation demand and decreased recharge from rainfall has the potential to significantly impact groundwater levels. If the lack of rainfall continues and the need for irrigation continues to be high the potential for continued groundwater decline is high. Adopting wise irrigation practices is important to maximizing crop yields and ensuring sustainable groundwater levels.