Shelledy Elementary

Playa Lakes & Underground Aquifer

Colorado Life Zones: Seasons, Plants, & Animals

Step 1: Choose One of the Life Zones or Choices Below

Life Zones Menu Bar
Colorado Life Zones General Information Interactive Elevation & Life Zone Diagram Colorado Maps: Life Zones and More Semidesert Shrublands (West CO) Shortgrass Plains Life Zone (East CO) Foothills Woodlands & Shrublands Montane Forests Life Zone Subalpine Life Zone Alpine Life Zone Riparian Life Zones

Shortgrass Prairie or Plains Life Zone: Seasons, Plants, & Animals

Step 2: Choose a Topic from the Shortgrass Prairie or Plains Life Zone & Scroll Down

Shortgrass Prairie or Plains Life Zone General Information
General Information

Shortgrass Prairie or Plains Life Zone Through the Seasons
Through the Seasons

Shortgrass Prairie or Plains Playa Lakes and Underground Aquifer
Playa Lakes & Underground Aquifer

Shortgrass Prairie or Plains Life Zone Awesome Adaptations
Awesome Adaptations

Shortgrass Prairie or Plains Plants and Trees
Plants and Trees

Shortgrass Prairie or Plains Life Zone Mammals

Shortgrass Prairie or Plains Life Zone Birds

Shortgrass Prairie or Plains Life Zone Reptiles and Amphibians
Reptiles & Amphibians

Playa Lakes & the Undeground Aquifer

Playa lakes can form in low areas of the plains. When the snow melts or large rain storms come, low areas fill up and form playa lakes. Many dissappear soon after they form by either evaporating into the air or soaking into the ground. The water that soaks into the ground refills the underground aquifer under the plains. Playa lakes provide important water for the plants, migratory birds, and animals of the plains.

Humans need to take water from lakes, underground aquifers, and rivers to live on the Great Plains, and grow crops like corn and wheat in the summer or raise cattle. If they did not irrigate their land, then it would only grow short wild grasses and cactus. Many farmers have drilled wells into the underground aquifer to water their fields. In times of drought (dr-out, when little rain falls) farmers have taken too much water out the aquifer and caused many wells to go dry. The farmers than must dig deeper wells to water their crops and drop the water level even more or watch their crops and animals die. See the pictures and illustrations below to find out more information. Click here to see a simulation of overused wells.

Playa Lake Summer

Playa Lake Winter

Plains Playa Lakes and Underground Aquifer Plains Winter
Aquifer Aquifer
Natural Spring

Top Left: Rain falls and soaks into the ground. The farmer digs a well to get to the water.

Top Right: When people use too much water the water level in the soil drops farther and farther down. If people use too much water, the shorter well like the one on the right will go dry.

Bottom Left: A. Rain falls from the sky. B. Some of the water soaks into the ground into undergound aquifers. C. The water spreads out and will create natural springs in low spots. The springs create long lasting playa lakes. The springs are important for all the animals of the plains, especially migrating birds through the seasons.