The Impact of Irrigation and Groundwater Extraction on the Arkansas River
Surface-water diversions for irrigation and groundwater extraction for center-pivot irrigation have had a significant effect on the Arkansas River channel. Through these activities, water is being withdrawn from the river at an unsustainable rate, leading to a decrease in the overall flow of the river. According to the USGS (2017), over the last century, the amount of water flowing in the Arkansas River has decreased by nearly 40%. This is largely due to the demand for water from agricultural activities, with the majority of this coming from irrigation and groundwater extraction. The impact of this increased water use is twofold. Firstly, it means that the channel is receiving less water, leading to a decrease in the water levels. This has a knock-on effect on the river’s aquatic ecosystems, with fish and other organisms being unable to survive in the lowered and more stagnant waters (USGS, 2017). Secondly, the decrease in water flow leads to an increase in sediment in the river, as there is less water to move the sediment away from the channel. This sediment can cause damage to the river’s banks, and can even block the flow of the river in some areas (USGS, 2017). Cont…
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