High Plains Ogallala Aquifer Study, Union and Harding Counties, 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 Union and Harding counties.
Four management strategies including a baseline, voluntary water conservation, mandatory irrigation water supply reduction, and interstate importation were evaluated.
For the baseline, the total gross output of all goods and services for the two counties was about $340 million in 1977. It. is projected to be $484 million in 1985, $525 million in 1990, $586 million in 2000, and $725 million in 2020. The differences in gross output among the management strategies are due mainly to changes in the agricultural sectors.
The most important sector is agriculture which contributed about 88 percent of the total output in 1977. Even though the other sectors are projected to expand, agriculture is projected to contribute about 75 percent of the total in 2020.
The mining sectors are projected to have an economic impact, increasing from about $7 million in 1977 to about $34 million in 2020. The trade sector is expected to expand faster than any of the other sectors, increasing from $11 million in 1977 to almost $59 million in 2020. The manufacturing sectors are projected to also increase from $3 million in 1977 to about $11 million in 2020.
The total employment in the counties in 1977 was 3,589, and is expected to increase to 5,032 by 2020. Agriculture was the largest employer throughout the period accounting for about 50 percent of the total in 1977, 38 percent in 1990, and 31 percent in 2020.
The alternative management strategies basically had very little impact on the economy of the counties. The voluntary strategy resulted in total output in 2020 of $66,000 more than the baseline. Mandatory resulted in $2.405 million more than the baseline and the importation strategy had $3.510 million more than the baseline. The impact on employment of the alternative management strategies in the counties was also minor. The voluntary strategy resulted in 156 more jobs than baseline in 2020. The mandatory had 90 more than baseline and the importation had 376 more than baseline. Population in the county was affected similarly to employment by the alternative strategies. Voluntary resulted in 533 more people than baseline in 2020, mandatory 292 more people than baseline, and importation had 1,202 more people than baseline in 2020.