As you may have heard, California has been in a 'drought emergency' since January 2014. In other words, their underground aquifers are not sustainable drinking water sources. The state has, however, discovered large underwater aquifers located thousands of feet below the ground. The question now is, how can these aquifers be accessed without adversely affecting the land?
Cross-sectional diagram of a groundwater aquifer
This is just one of many areas in the world where groundwater depletion is taking place. Depletion produces negative effects including:
1. Excessive pumping causing low water table levels
2. Increased financial and energy costs to reach the aquifer
3. Reduces surface water levels
4. Land subsidence
5. Saltwater contamination of water
Besides these negative effects, what can we do to help alleviate this crisis?
Simple solutions involve using less water for our lawns and plants. Choosing plants that require less water, utilizing drip irrigation, or watering at night helps as well. Avoiding the use of water fountains and swimming pools also conserves water. Using less household chemicals would prevent contamination of groundwater aquifers.
Drip irrigation systems are often used for row crop irrigation
Solutions through collaborating with researchers, scientists, and government bodies is the best way to prevent this crisis from getting worse. Ultimately, water conservation and sustainability is necessary not only for our aquifers but for human and environmental health.