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Water levels have declined in the southern part of the High Plains aquifer of the central USA since the mid-1960s in response to extensive irrigation development. The North Canadian River originates in western Oklahoma, and most of the basin is underlain by the High Plains aquifer. Average river flow in the headwaters near Guymon, Oklahoma, has decreased from about 0.9 m3/s before 1970 to near zero at present. Canton Lake, on the North Canadian River near Seiling, about 250 km downstream from Guymon, is a source of water supply for Oklahoma City. Precipitation data and streamflow data for gages upstream from Canton Lake were divided into an "early" period ending in 1971 and a "recent" period that begins in 1978. The early period represents conditions before ground-water levels had declined appreciably in the High Plains aquifer, and the recent period reflects the current condition, including the effects of storage reservoirs. Tests for trend and comparisons of flows between the early and recent periods show that the total annual volume of flow and the magnitudes of instantaneous annual peak discharges measured at most locations in the North Canadian River basin have decreased. Precipitation records for the area, however, show no corresponding changes. The decreases in average annual flow, expressed as a percentage of the average flows for the early period, ranged from 91 percent near Guymon to 37 percent near Canton Lake. A major contributing factor in the decreased flows appears to be the large declines in water levels in the High Plains aquifer.
Additional Publication Details
Changes in flow in the upper North Canadian river basin of western Oklahoma, pre-development to 2000
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First International Conference on River Basin Management