Officials in Topeka, Kan., are debating how much water should be pumped from underground aquifers used to irrigate crops and water cattle. Conservationists say the aquifers can't support the current levels of pumping. Gov. Bill Graves wants to limit it to the amount returned through rain and stream flow by 2020. Southwest Kansas lawmakers said the limit would destroy the area's economy.

Ground water from aquifers is used for domestic, municipal, industrial, and agricultural purposes, primarily where the aquifer is near the surface in southwestern and central Kansas. In southwestern Kansas, the Dakota aquifer is used in conjunction with the overlying High Plains aquifer (the Ogallala and associated shallow aquifers) as a source of water for irrigation. In central Kansas, the Dakota provides a good source of water for irrigation, stock watering, municipal supply and industry. In west central Kansas, the aquifer is a primary source of water for livestock and domestic use.