Sunday, December 13, 2015

Underground water use will have to change now

"Groundwater is disappearing beneath cornfields in Kansas, rice paddies in India, asparagus farms in Peru and orange groves in Morocco. As these critical water reserves are pumped beyond their limits, the threats are mounting for people who depend on aquifers to supply agriculture, sustain economies and provide drinking water. In some areas, fields have already turned to dust and farmers are struggling.
Climate change is projected to increase the stresses on water supplies, and heated disputes are erupting in places where those with deep wells can keep pumping and leave others with dry wells. Even as satellite measurements have revealed the problem’s severity on a global scale, many regions have failed to adequately address the problem. Aquifers largely remain unmanaged and unregulated, and water that seeped underground over tens of thousands of years is being gradually used up.
In this project, USA TODAY and The Desert Sun investigate the consequences of this emerging crisis in several of the world’s hotspots of groundwater depletion. These are stories about people on four continents confronting questions of how to safeguard their aquifers for the future – and in some cases, how to cope as the water runs out."

"Groundwater has been severely overpumped by farms in Morocco’s Souss-Massa region, and the water table has fallen dramatically. When the family’s well dried up, their farm was transformed into barren land.
The orange grove’s disappearance nearly five years ago eliminated the main source of income for Mbarek Belkadi, his three brothers, and their families. They’ve turned to whatever work they can find, often buying and selling fruit. Earning enough to survive has become a constant struggle.

'All this land was irrigated with this well. Now it’s dead,' Mbarek said, standing beside piles of dry branches. 'It’s finished here.'
As the family crowded around their old well, they pulled back the metal cover. A rusty cable lay in a heap next to it. This cable, they explained, was used to lower people into the hole to dig deeper. They dug down to more than 600 feet, and then gave up as the water level kept dropping. They could no longer afford a more powerful pump to lift the water from so far underground."

This is quite an eye-opening series.  I had heard that California's central valley has actually been sinking due to the groundwater depletion.  And I heard something about Saudi Arabia sucking the life out of their groundwater supply.  It's sad to see that people all over the world have been satisfied with the short-term gain rather than trying to utilize the groundwater in a sustainable manner.  Now we have to pay for that shortsightedness.

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