Synopses & Reviews
"Ogalalla Blue" is the story of a crucial, dwindling natural resource: an invisible ocean of fresh water under the Great Plains. This is an account of people as well as water, with many vignettes of those living in the shadow of the Ogallala's decline and ultimate demise.
"People of the Great Plains have been drawing on the underground water of the sprawling Ogallala Aquifer for centuries. But it took a failed tinkerer's single inspired invention in 1948 the center-pivot sprinkler system to precipitate this century's looming crisis over access to potable water, on land stretching from South Dakota to Texas and from Colorado almost to Iowa. The sprinkler (followed by ever more sophisticated water extraction systems) sprayed water across fields of corn and cotton more efficiently, reports Ashworth (The Late, Great Lakes). But this in turn led to an increase in land under cultivation a situation that, compounded by suburban sprawl in the southwest, means that for the past half-century, water that had collected below the surface over many millennia is now being consumed far more quickly than nature can replenish it. Ashworth recounts some conservation efforts that could achieve a 'tenuous balance' between supply and demand, but he doesn't hold out much hope that years of rampant mining of the aquifer's once-vast liquid resources can be reversed. Firsthand vignettes about efforts to introduce dryland farming techniques and reintroduce buffalo herds add some zip to the narrative, but for a doomsday book about a dire situation, the text is often pretty dry. Map. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)