Bridging the irrigation gap with surface water

Dabbs' family find solutions for increasing a decreasing water supply.

When Lori Dabbs’ grandfather bought her family’s farm in the 1940s, it came with several wells to irrigate the crops. Over time those wells became less and less productive as the groundwater levels dropped on the Grand Prairie of Arkansas.

Both the grandfather and Lori’s dad invested in making the available water supplies go farther because they wanted their children and grandchildren to be able to continue to farm after they were gone, as she explained in a presentation at the Arkansas Soil & Water Education Conference at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro.

The last of the existing wells on the land bought in the 1940s stopped producing in the 1970s, she said. That left the family facing a dilemma about how to increase water supplies. Their solutions have included levelling their land, putting in straight levees and other water conserving measures as well as taking advantage of government programs and tax credits to build more surface water-holding structures.

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