The Ogallala Aquifer is located in the Great Plains region and is one of the largest aquifers in the world. Not only is it located in Texas but takes up space in seven other states as well covering 174,000 square miles. Because of the farming practices that take place along the aquifer, it is at risk of drying up and no longer existing. Experts estimate 90% of the water pulled from the aquifer is used for U.S. irrigation. It was discovered in 1889 and was used minimally until the drought in the 1930s hit. The U.S. markets receive $20 billion worth of food and fiber to the nation and the rapidly depleting aquifer is considered a major risk to the sustainability of our country. This aquifer will take 6,000 years to replenish by rainfall prior to depletion.
Water from this aquifer was first drawn after World War II but has been forming for two to six million years. Dedicated to the rebuilding and reinvigorating of the commonwealth is the Ogallala Commons Playa Classroom located at 1555 FM168, Nazareth, TX 79063. This 501(c)3 nonprofit is an organization dedicated to building education and leadership skills among the commonwealth of the Great Plains where the aquifer lies. Their website states that they serve the land the aquifer is located under as well as some of the Rocky Mountains region.
The Ogallala Commons Playa Classroom has a Board of Directors with nine members. The operation is run by staff contractors which is composed of members who work in a collaborative effort to fulfill the needs of the organization. The Ogallala Commons says their mission is to help communities “to do together what no one community can do alone,” and they do so in a four part approach. These four steps are listed on their website and include:
Weaving a collaborative network of diverse partners
Building an education outreach through our core programs, workshops, and digital tools
Fostering a sense of place to instill meaning and inspire stewardship
Rebuilding commonwealth communities to sustain our people and lands.
They base their philosophy on the practices of communal resource management like in societies in the late-medieval period in Europe. The Ogallala Commons was started in 1999 for a project in resource development in which they aim to reinvigorate the commonwealth of the Great Plains region. It was given the title of a 501(c)3 nonprofit education and leadership organization in 2008. Available on their website is a paper available to read that contains information about the organization and its formation. There are also two books, Our Commonwealth: The Hidden Economy That Makes Everything Else Work by Jonathan Rowe and All That We Share: A Field Guide to The Commons by Jay Walljasper that have information on the subject.
Commonwealth is defined on their website as four different things: “Communal assets that increase or decrease depending on management,” “wealth we inherit or create together…which we desire to pass on…,” “a sector of the economy that compliments but is also distinct from the market and government sectors,” and “gifts of the natural world and human society that have monetary and non-monetary value in supporting life and well-being for both human and natural communities.”
They have programs in leadership development, how to rebuild local food systems, how to steward natural resources, and engage the youth in these practices. The organization believes every community has the resources to provide 12 different things including arts & culture, education, foodshed, leisure & recreation, renewable energy, history, health, spirituality, soil & mineral cycle, water cycle, wildlife & natural world, and sense of place no matter the financial state of the community.
Keep reading on when you follow this link to the next article.
Map from Ogallala Commons Playa Classroom to AW Broadband:
Map from Ogallala Commons Playa Classroom to Quanah Parker Trail Arrow: