High Plains Ogallala Aquifer Study, Quay County, New Mexico
New Mexico participated with five High Plains states and the High Plains Associates in the Six-State High Plains-Ogallala Aquifer Area Study. The purpose of the study was to estimate the economic impacts over a 40-year planning horizon resulting from rapidly rising energy costs and the declining Ogallala aquifer water tables in Quay County.
Four management strategies including a baseline, voluntary water conservation, mandatory irrigation water supply reduction, and interstate importation were evaluated.
The total gross output of all goods and services for Quay County was about $77 million in 1977. It is projected to be $100 million in 1985, $116 million in 1990, $145 million in 2000, and $203 million in 2020 for the baseline. The differences in gross output among the management strategies are due to changes in the agricultural sectors.
The most important sector is agriculture which contributed about 59 percent of the total output in 1977. Even though the other sectors are projected to expand, agriculture is projected to contribute about 40 percent of the total in 2020.
The mining sectors are projected to have a minor economic impact. In 1977, the mining sectors accounted for about $118,000 of the total output; in 1985 they are projected to account for $1.9 million. By 2020, the mining activity is expected to increase to $14.5 million. The trade and service sectors are expected to expand faster than any of the other sectors. The manufacturing sectors are projected to increase from $2.6 million in 1977 to about $9.5 million in 2020.
The total employment in Quay County in 1977 was 1,865, and is expected to increase to 3,060 by 2020. Government was the largest employer in 1977 through 1990, but in 2000 and 2020 the trade sector was projected to be the most important.
The majority of the irrigated cropland in Quay County lies in the Arch-Hurley Conservancy District. The conservancy district overshadows much of the impacts the decline in the Ogallala would have in the area. Thus, the alternative management strategies basically had very little impact on the economy of Quay County. The voluntary strategy resulted in total output in 2020 of $1,000 more than the baseline. Mandatory resulted in $1.028 million more than the baseline and the importation strategy had $2.204 million more than the baseline. The impact on employment of the alternative management strategies in Quay County was also minor. The voluntary strategy resulted in 34 more jobs than baseline in 2020. The mandatory had 40 more than baseline and the importation had 111 more than baseline. Population in the county was affected similar to employment by the alternative strategies. Voluntary resulted in 120 more people than baseline in 2020, mandatory 129 more people than baseline, and importation had 337 more people than baseline in 2020.