The declaration of the COVID-19 viral disease as a pandemic by the World Health Organization and the increasing number of institutional travel restrictions related to COVID-19 has prompted postponement of the 2020 Ogallala Aquifer Summit.

Brent Auvermann, Ph.D., director of Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Amarillo and program chair for the conference, said the summit is important enough to reschedule, but for now safety and attendance is the primary concern.

“Enough of our participating and allied institutions have implemented out-of-state travel restrictions that would decimate our participation,” Auvermann said. “This is too important of an interstate event to try to pull it off with a skeleton crew from one state.”

He said updates on the rescheduling of the event will be posted on the 2020 Ogallala Aquifer Summit website.

Texas A&M AgriLife is co-hosting the summit with the Ogallala Water Coordinated Agriculture Project, the Kansas Water Office and the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service supported Ogallala Aquifer Program.

The Ogallala Aquifer underlies eight states – Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming. The aquifer supplies water for about 25% of U.S. agricultural production and more than 40% of U.S. feedlot beef cattle. It also supplies drinking water for 82% of the people living within its boundaries.

“The 2020 summit is designed to give us an opportunity to think together and to let all the states overlying the Ogallala learn from one another and from their own experiments and efforts to manage water related challenges,” Auvermann said.

The first Ogallala Aquifer Summit was held in 2018. The 2020 summit will be focused on tackling the tough questions involved in managing common-pool resources like the Ogallala Aquifer.

“While we regret needing to postpone the summit, we are excited about the opportunities we have now to build anticipation about and interest in this special event, with a tremendous group of speakers and participants already engaged,” said Meagan Schipanski, assistant professor, Department of Soil and Crop Sciences at Colorado State University and Ogallala Water CAP co-director.

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