Drought Threatens the Great Plains

Destructive agriculture practices are depleting soils, exposing land to erosion, and using up all the water.

The Ogallala Aquifer is one of the largest bodies of fresh water in the world. And it’s underground. It lies beneath the breadbasket of the United States.

Farmers in eight American states currently depend on it for their livelihood. But it is starting to run dry.

Irrigation wells are pumping out water faster than rainfall can refill it. The U.S. Geological Survey said in June that the aquifer lost 3.5 trillion gallons between 2013 and 2015. An average of six miles of streams are drying up each year. In Colorado, there are some places where the groundwater level has dropped by 100 feet.

One farmer told the Denver Post that the 40-foot well her grandfather dug in 1914 had just gone dry. She said that her home is turning into “the Great American Desert.”

Why Is This Happening?

The Ogallala Aquifer is not going dry due to climate change—rainfall on the Great Plains has actually increased. It is drying up due to industrial irrigation of farmland.

In the past, farmers included grazing animals in their crop rotation. The grass that grows so well in pastureland covers bare soil and reduces water evaporation. Manure from grazing animals returns organic matter to the soil, which increases the ground’s capacity to hold water.

But now, industrial farms are sucking organic content out of the soil, exposing the land to the sun, and pumping huge amounts of water out of the ground. The result? The Ogallala is draining.

What Does the Bible Say?

In ancient times, God instructed the Israelites to observe the law of the land sabbath. This law, and others, encourages farmers to rotate their crops and raise both plants and animals. The land sabbath requires the land to lie fallow once every seven years. Among other things, this ensured that people would not take water out of the soil faster than it could be replenished.

In Leviticus 26, God told the Israelites that if they disobeyed His laws, including the land sabbath, He would scatter them “among the heathen” and let their land lay desolate so it could finally have its sabbaths.

To learn why laws like the land sabbath apply to Americans living above the Ogallala Aquifer and beyond, request The United States and Britain in Prophecy, by Herbert W. Armstrong.