The only semipermanent surface water available on the Southern High
Plains plateau of Texas and New Mexico is contained in saline lakes and
in the playa lakes that form in shallow depressions, called playa
basins, following heavy rainfall. The playas generally are accepted as
the main source of recharge to the underlying High Plains (Ogallala)
aquifer of the region, and they constitute the major wildlife habitat on
the Southern High Plains. Their use as water sources, holding ponds,
and waste-disposal sites by agricultural and industrial operations may
potentially lead to ground-water contamination and habitat degradation.
Therefore, playa lakes will play an essential role in the collection of
surface-water quality and ecological data for the Southern High Plains
study unit of the National Water-Quality Assessment program of the U.S.