Letter from Lee Allison, State Geologist of Kansas, to
The Honorable Jeff Bingaman, Senator from New Mexico


July 18, 2002

Honorable Jeff Bingaman
Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC

Dear Senator Bingaman:
I am writing on behalf of the geological surveys of the eight High Plains states to endorse your proposed legislation, "High Plains Aquifer Hydrogeologic Characterization, Mapping, Modeling, and Monitoring Act."

This act will authorize scientific and technical analyses critical to extending and conserving the life of the nationŐs single largest groundwater resource. It is particularly noteworthy that the act is written to facilitate and ensure cooperation and collaboration among all of the affected the geological surveys, state water agencies, and the local water user communities.

The High Plains aquifer is a complex system of geologic materials that vary vertically and across the region in its thickness, water storage and transport capacity, and ability to be recharged. Eight state geological surveys and the U.S. Geological Survey formed the High Plains Aquifer Coalition two years ago to advance the understanding of the subsurface distribution, character, and nature of the High Plains Aquifer that comprises the geologic deposits in the eight-state Mid-continent region. The distribution, withdrawal, and recharge of groundwater, and the interaction with surface waters are profoundly affected by the geology and the natural environment of the High Plains Aquifer in all eight states--New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wyoming. The geological surveys, in consultation with state and local water agencies and groups, have agreed on the need for comprehensive understanding of the subsurface configuration and hydrogeology of the High Plains Aquifer. This information is needed to provide state, regional, and national policymakers with the earth-science information required to make informed decisions regarding urban and agricultural land use, the protection of aquifers and surface waters, and the environmental well being of the citizens of this geologically unique region.

Water contained in the High Plains Aquifer must be considered a finite resource and thus warrants a different management approach than that used for more robust or readily recharged aquifers. Your proposed legislation addresses this issue in an effective and logical manner, and we believe it will receive broad support. The "High Plains Aquifer Characterization, Mapping, Modeling, and Monitoring Act" is a necessary first step in a comprehensive program to adequately address issues of conservation, education, and agricultural economics in the High Plains Aquifer. We applaud your vision and leadership in introducing this legislation.


M. Lee Allison
State Geologist and Director
Kansas Geological Survey
Coordinator, High Plains Aquifer Coalition

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