Playa Lakes: Enchancing Recharge to the Ogallala Aquifer
The TWDB is working to determine the best strategies for enhancing the playa's recharge function. The initial phase of the playa research project will create a monitoring system to establish baseline conditions using remote sensing, a network of instrumented sites, and volunteer landowner participation. After three years of initial monitoring, a sub-set of playas will be modified to test the effectiveness of different methods of recharge enhancement and then tracked for a period of three to five years to see how recharge is affected. Playa modifications may include sediment excavation and buffer strip planting, establishment of deep-rooted native grasses to increase the permeability of lake-bottom clays, and V-ditching or deep plowing to break up restrictive layers.
The TWDB playa project is being implemented in cooperation with on-going research programs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service and Texas Tech University, and in consultation with the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the groundwater conservation districts across the High Plains. Landowner cooperation is also essential as almost all playas are on private lands. Playa modifications are intended to maintain the wetlands characteristics of the sites so as to avoid conflict with Federal wetlands regulations, but participating landowners are also protected from any loss of Farm Program benefits as a result of playa modifications under a specific exemption included in the 2008 Farm Bill.
The TWDB is seeking landowners in the High Plains region interested in participating in the Playa Lakes project. For more background on the project, and information on how you can get involved, please follow the links below or contact us at 512-936-0817.
- A Thousand Points of Recharge: Can alternative management strategies increase recharge from the playa lakes of the Southern High Plains to the Ogallala Aquifer?
A presentation summarizing some of the early results of the playa monitoring program.
- Playa Project Background Paper
- Landowner Information Sheet
- Playa Instrumentation
- Phase 1 Access Agreement
- Report 357 - Characterization of Playa Basins on the High Plains of Texas
- Aquifer Recharge Utilizing Playa Lake Water and Filter Underdrains Phase IV
- Report 288 - Evaluating the Ground-Water Resources of the High Plains of Texas
- Report LP 114 - Playa Lake Monitoring for the Llano Estacado Total Water Management Study
- Report 10 - Studies of Playa Lakes in the High Plains of Texas
- Playa Lakes Joint Venture
- Sibley Nature Center - Habitats of the Llano Estacado Playas
- Texas Tech CASNR Water Center
- Texas Tech Ogallala Aquifer Program
- US Department of Agriculture - Agricultural Research Service Ogallala Aquifer Program
- US Geological Survey - High Plains Unsaturated-Zone Research Network
- US Geological Survey - High Plains Water-Level Monitoring Study
- Natural Resources Conservation Service Wetlands Reserve Program Fact Sheet
- Natural Resources Conservation Service Wetlands Reserve Program in the Texas Playa Region Brochure
- US Bureau of Reclamation - Llano Estacado Water Resources Study
- US Fish and Wildlife Service - Waterfowl Management Handbook - Ecology of Playa Lakes
- USGS Circular 1333 - Recharge Rates and Chemistry Beneath Playas of the High Plains Aquifer: A Literature Review and Synthesis
- USGS Water-Resources Investigations Report 99-4018B - Occurrence of Cotton Herbicides and Insecticides in Playa Lakes of the High Plains of West Texas
Groundwater Conservation Districts
- High Plains Underground Water Conservation District No. 1
- Panhandle Groundwater Conservation District
- North Plains Groundwater Conservation District
- Hemphill County Underground Water Conservation District
- Sandy Land Underground Water Conservation District
- Mesa Underground Water Conservation District
- Llano Estacado Underground Water District