A few Friday’s ago, I saw an advertisement in the local dailies that I thought was ridiculous. I would have loved to share the image but I’ll just tell you about it. It was a drilling company that offered to end all ‘my water issues’ by drilling boreholes.
Let me start by saying that, my friend Po thinks that I’m anti-groundwater use but I completely disagree. What I am however is, anti-reckless-use-of-natural resources-whose-quantities-we-are-not-sure-of-and-lack-clear-means-and-methods-of-monitoring-their-extraction-and-use. A mouthful… I know…
Allow me to explain why with a background from groundwater.org
Groundwater is found underground in the cracks and spaces in soil, sand and rock. It is stored in and moves slowly through geologic formations of soil, sand and rocks called aquifers.
Aquifers are typically made up of gravel, sand, sandstone, or fractured rock, like limestone. Water can move through these materials because they have large connected spaces that make them permeable. The speed at which groundwater flows depends on the size of the spaces in the soil or rock and how well the spaces are connected.
Groundwater can be found almost everywhere. The water table may be deep or shallow; and may rise or fall depending on many factors. Heavy rains or melting snow may cause the water table to rise, or heavy pumping of groundwater supplies may cause the water table to fall.
Groundwater supplies are replenished, or recharged, by rain and snow melt that seeps down into the cracks and crevices beneath the land’s surface. In some areas of the world, people face serious water shortages because groundwater is used faster than it is naturally replenished. In other areas groundwater is polluted by human activities.
Surface water on the other hand, is water that you can see such as lakes and streams. It is found above the earth’s surface.
So, instead of quickly turning to other options such as ground water and making it our main alternative, we need to keep the responsible authorities on their toes for the proper management of the available surface water. Case in point, the river below…
I don’t understand why it had all these watermelons during a drought.
See, when you have sufficient surface water. By that I mean, surface water of good quality and quantity, then there is barely need to extract groundwater. If you harvest rainwater in addition to the good quality surface water, then there’s no need to even think about groundwater.
Because, if we head in the groundwater direction and let our rivers turn into sewers, let the rainwater go to waste… we just may have research titles similar to the ones below in a few years…
Excessive Use of Groundwater Resources in Saudi Arabia: Impacts and Policy Options by Abdulla Ali Al-Ibrahim
or news articles such as
NASA Data Reveals Most Major Aquifers Depleting Faster Than They Recharge by Linnea Bennett
Beijing has fallen: China’s capital sinking by 11cm a year, satellite study warns
I understand that in some countries it is the only option. However, it is important that as the extraction is taking place, the amount being withdrawn is less or equal to the amount of groundwater recharge, for posterity.