Environment: Ebbing of the Ogallala

The great watering hole beneath the Great Plains is going dry

There are two documentary images of the Great Plains. The first is a black-and-white photograph of the '30s Dust Bowl, with windblown homesteaders treading the cracked earth. The second: a glossy color shot of the same land 40 years later, showing the lush checkerboard farms of America's breadbasket. Now, as if through a strange reversal in time, the second image threatens to fade into the first. For in another 40 years, the territory could backslide into dust and despair. The Ogallala Aquifer, the vast underground reservoir of water that transformed much...

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