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Water Sustainability

There is a finite amount of freshwater on the Earth’s surface, but there are an estimated 360,000 births every day. The planet’s population is rapidly increasing while the amount of water we can use stays the same.

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Water Sustainability
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There is a finite amount of freshwater on the Earth’s surface, but there are an estimated 360,000 births every day. The planet’s population is rapidly increasing while the amount of water we can use stays the same.
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There is a finite amount of freshwater on the Earth’s surface, but there are an estimated 360,000 births every day. The planet’s population is rapidly increasing while the amount of water we can use stays the same.

Actually, the amount of freshwater we have for the world’s population is decreasing. How can this be? The answer is complex and involves many interlinked processes primarily caused by human activity, from urbanization to pollution. Water sustainability is more crucial than ever to safeguard the main sources of freshwater we access daily to irrigate our crops, manufacture our clothes, and simply drink to survive.

Two factors that aggravate water scarcity are groundwater depletion and saltwater intrusion. Keep reading for a breakdown of these forces and what you can do about them.

What Is Groundwater Depletion?

Groundwater depletion is a relatively simple concept with far reaching implications. Groundwater depletion is the long-term decline in groundwater levels due to overuse and sustained groundwater pumping.

What Is Groundwater?

Groundwater is the largest source of usable freshwater on the planet. In the United States your drinking water either comes from surface water (lakes, rivers, and streams) or groundwater. Groundwater accounts for 30% of Earth’s freshwater, while 68% of the remaining freshwater is frozen in ice caps, glaciers, and permanent snow.

Groundwater is found underground in porous rock, soil, and sand. A large deposit of groundwater is called an aquifer. In many of our blogs we report on groundwater aquifers that have been depleted in drought-prone regions.

The area where groundwater fills an aquifer is called the saturation zone, and the top of this zone is called the water table. The water table of an aquifer can be located just a few feet below the ground or it can be located hundreds of feet down.

Groundwater depletion is large-scale problem because it represents a water supply for an area becoming unviable. For example, if severe groundwater depletion occurs in a dry state in the Southwest and the aquifer is not replenished, eventually there will not be a financially sound source of drinking water for that area. When groundwater and fresh water supplies run out, a mass migration will happen as people move to an area where drinking water is obtainable.

Groundwater supplies drinking water for 51% of the U.S. population and 99% of the rural population. Groundwater is integral for agricultural and industrial uses — 64% of our yearly groundwater withdrawals are used to water crops.

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