Scary statistics... In California, agriculture is to blame as 20 percent of the crop feeding is done with groundwater and then compound the Drought and the fact that we are using more water than is being absorbed into the aquifer. The odd thing is that the farmers aren't yet mandated to report on the total amount of groundwater they use in a given year... So then who is accountable in the end?
We the people are accountable... Maybe we need to promote more drastic consequences for over using your water other than just fines. I mean there are people who are not saving but wasting water in California (EdC reported on this recently) in protest and these are the wealthiest people who can easily afford the fines. Fuckers!...
Just so the rest of the world knows (or at least those who read this blog) most Californian's are not like that. I mean in Los Angeles County we have reduce our water usage by 40 percent over last year. LOL - My grass is like a tannish-green; well more tan that green and I am not watering my backyard at all with the exception of a Peach tree...
When it comes to water scarcity, the loss of groundwater is like the silent killer: It isn’t as easy to measure or monitor as, say, a shrinking reservoir. We’ve known that many aquifers are overtaxed, but a new report shows we’re draining major aquifers faster than they’re being replenished. Not just in California—this is happening everywhere.
A new study from the University of California, Irvine looked at 37 major aquifers in the world using data from NASA and other indicators. Each aquifer was assigned a Total Groundwater Stress (TGS) ratio measuring total storage as compared to depletion rate to assign timelines. One third of the aquifers—which provide food and water to two billion people—are being depleted at accelerated rates. At least eight of those are categorized as “overstressed,” meaning they are losing water at the fastest rate.
One part of the study estimated that the Northwest Sahara Aquifer System—a massive groundwater source which covers most of northern Africa—could be depleted up to 90 percent of its total storage in 50 years.
In many cases, agricultural practices are to blame, as aquifers are being drained to feed growing populations; about 20 percent of all food is grown with groundwater. Now compound that with the lack of precipitation in many areas which doesn’t percolate back into the aquifer fast enough to replace the water that’s is being extracted. Industries like oil production have also been blamed as they pull out groundwater as part of extraction process. And it’s not just the fact that there’s less water to use. Losing groundwater is bad for other reasons: It kills trees, makes the ground sink, and can eventually cause the aquifer itself to collapse.
I’ve reported before on NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellite, which is able to measure groundwater by looking at regional gravitational attraction. But as the study mentions, this data is not precise—scientists still need to compare it with on-the-ground well data. The problem in a place like California, for example, is that farmers aren’t yet required to report on how much groundwater they’re taking out of the aquifer every year. And after a series of dry years, they might not know how bad it is until it’s too late.