"The Ogallala aquifer turned the region into America's breadbasket. Now it, and a way of life, are being drained away."
"'Whoa,' yells Brownie Wilson, as the steel measuring tape I am feeding down the throat of an irrigation well on the Kansas prairie gets away from me and unspools rapidly into the depths below.
The well, wide enough to fall into, taps into the Ogallala aquifer, the immense underground freshwater basin that makes modern life possible in the dry states of Middle America. We have come to assess the aquifer’s health. The weighted tip hits the water at 195 feet, a foot lower than a year ago. Dropping at this pace, it is nearing the end of its life. 'Already this well does not have enough water left to irrigate for an entire summer,' Wilson says."
Laura Parker reports for National Geographic magazine in the August 2016 issue, with photographs by Randy Olson.