While there are still many individuals that still do not even think about the fact that there may one day not be sufficient water for everyone, the fact is that our water reserves are running out!
The truth is that climate change, wastage and devastating droughts are causing havoc. Added to this, the growing demand for water for agricultural, industrial, energy and personal use is constantly growing, contributing to the fact that surface water is being stretched beyond its limits.
Unfortunately, this is not the only problem; reservoirs, rivers and lakes are not the only resources that are drying up – subterranean aquifers are also running dry.
The distribution of water on the Earth’s surface is extremely uneven. Out of the more than 326 million trillion gallons of water on Earth, only 3% of water on the surface is fresh, the remaining 97% resides in the ocean. Of the freshwater, 69% can be found in glaciers, 30% underground, and less than 1% is located in lakes, rivers and swamps. Water also exists in the air as water vapour.
The repositories of water located deep underground can be found in permeable rock, soil or sand, and contain about 100 times the amount of water found on the Earth’s surface in streams, lakes, rivers and wetlands.
According to scientists, the gap between water supply and demand will reach 40% by 2030, and this means that aquifers are currently being exploited more for agriculture, power generation and daily use in fast-growing urban areas. This is creating a situation in which many of the largest aquifers are already being fast-depleted and, due to changing rainfall patterns, are not being replenished.
Over-pumping groundwater is not only leading to depleted underground reservoirs, but also soil subsidence, resulting in some Asian cities sinking and in depleted aquifers near cities on coastlines becoming contaminated with salt water.
It is therefore vital that the management of surface water be vastly improved in order to reduce the need for plundering our underground resources.
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