Music Nebraska sits atop a massive underground water supply. The Ogallala Aquifer is vital for the state’s citizens, plants and animals. We can’t get away from increasing needs for water resources. University of Nebraska-Lincoln hydrogeologist John Gates studies the world’s aquifers, from Nebraska and the Texas Panhandle to Australia and China. Most of the water that’s available on this planet for agriculture is underground. So I think we need to do all we can to get better at inferring the way that water moves around underground. Gates works with a suite of techniques called environmental tracers to determine how old groundwater is and how it moves around. Refining our understanding of the way water gets underground, the rates at which that happens, we call that recharge rates, and the rates at which a given well can extract water are also critical pieces of the puzzle. Nebraska’s aquifer has a high recharge rate but in other parts of the world, heavy irrigation, drought and increased urbanization have strained aquifers. We’re developing these tools to get better and better all the time at understanding groundwater resources. Research into aquifer recharge will help protect the planet’s water resources for future generations.