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"In my time of farming, I've put down – I think I've put down, oh, 12 to 15 irrigation wells. I'm currently involved in trying to find some more water in Central City. I bought a farm with limited water on it. We ran out this year. We're trying to find some more water on the farm and we're not doing it…
   "Go around sinking test holes in different places on the farm. I did that just about a week ago, put down some test holes. If you can find another vein of water that you're not using, then you have to run underground pipe over to your engine, over to your pump rather, pivot center."
   Question: "You've mined the water, right?"
   "Yeah. That's what it amounts to. It was no problem at a lot of locations. But, oh, I put down irrigation wells where the water level was only seven feet below the ground. It was unlimited water from there on. You could have as much as you wanted to get the horsepower to pump. But, there again, this York County land is a little bit limited. In a dry year, why, we have been known to pump some air [instead of water] and have to lower our wells…
   "Now I'm at the bottom of the hole, so I'm hoping it will start raining… I'm afraid that it's a resource that we are going to run short on some day, because – When you do an irrigation system, why, you drive around here and you see all these pivots, or wells running. And they're pumping out up to 1,000, 1,200 gallon per minute. Well, that's got to be limited down there, eventually. I hate to say it, and the farmer doesn't want to admit the possibility, but there probably needs to be some regulations and some controls on how much water can be pumped…
   "It's going to be a problem. And we're going to have to learn to live with what we've got, I guess. There's been an awful lot of waste in the past."
   Question: "Do you think you were ever guilty of the waste?"
   "I tried not to be. But, I rented my land out once, and the person that rented it, he was very guilty of wasting water. That was one of the problems we had. But I tried to keep a close tab on it and change the tubes when the water was through to the end of the row. Some people just let it run, and run, and run, and it all goes down in the Lincoln Creek which goes to the Missouri and eventually winds up in the Gulf [of Mexico], I guess…
   "There is a tremendous amount of waste. Don't let any farmer know that I admitted to that."
   Question: "Unfortunately, it's going to be on the Web site."
   "Oh boy. I better get out of town [laughs]. Well, it's something I think most anybody would admit there's some need for, some better control.…
   "You think you own your water underneath your ground. I guess you don't."

Jim Chenault – Mining the Aquifer

   

Other Excerpts from Jim Chenault's Interview:

Pearl Harbor
Enlisting before High School Graduation
Bombing Germany from England
Nisei Internment in California
V-E Day
Student Pilots on the GI Bill
Flying the Berlin Airlift
Irrigation Enabling Other Technologies
Crop Dusting