The worlds is going to see depletion of 20 per cent of its groundwater, which is an impending threat to drinking water and Agriculture for billions of people, according to a new study in the Science journal.
The study “a timely warning that universal access to groundwater is fundamentally at risk” claimed that 20 per cent of the wells across the world are at risk of running dry if groundwater reserves continue to decline.
Researchers Jasechko and Perrone analysed data from about 39 million wells from 40 countries. Groundwater is the primary water source for half of the population. However, the researchers point out that increasing demand and lack of adequate management led to continued depletion of many major aquifers. Some of the aquifers are depleting at an alarming pace, the researchers said.
WATER HAVES AND HAVENOT'S
The researchers stated that the wealthy people would only be in a position to afford the cost to drill deeper wells. Meanwhile, poorer communities and lower income families, small farmers and smaller farms will only have limited access as the groundwater level go down. They noted that this scenario was already visible. In California’s Central Valley, deeper wells have depleted groundwater levels to such levels that domestic wells have run dry in the region. They noted that the gap between the water “haves” and “have not’s” will widen further if timely measures are not adopted.
Once the groundwater depletes, it would threaten food production, livelihoods of millions and health. This would also have an impact on the environment. Moreover, disappearing groundwater resources may also trigger conflicts. They could also create waves of climate refugees. The researchers point out that avoiding such a scenario was paramount to human security.
MEET THE CHALLENGES
In the study, the researchers have come up with several measures to face the challenge. They find that an inclusive governance, effective management and an agreed upon definition of groundwater sustainability will help in overcoming the challenge.
They also pointed out that new institutions and networks must be fostered to raise awareness of these urgent needs. These institutions could coordinate stakeholder participation and help governments build the political will to protect groundwater. They also wanted to have regional collaboration, as most of the groundwater systems are regional and trans-boundary. The study also elaborates the need to have a global coordinating body to share knowledge, tools, and best practices across regions.