Nationwide analysis shows depletion of groundwater widespread and worsening
SUBLETTE, Kansas – Just before 3 a.m., Jay Garetson’s phone buzzed on the bedside table. He picked it up and read the text: “Low Pressure Alert.”
He felt a jolt of stress and his chest tightened. He dreaded what that automated message probably meant: With the water table dropping, another well on his family’s farm was starting to suck air.
The Garetson family has been farming in the plains of southwestern Kansas for four generations, since 1902. Now they face a hard reality. The groundwater they depend on is disappearing. Their fields could wither. Their farm might not survive for the next generation.
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A fourth summer of drought and one that’s been described as exceptional severity is putting California through the harshest drought anyone can remember and raising fears that the state’s ancient aquifers could disappear for good.
LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: Like Australia, California’s no stranger to drought. It’s in the middle of one right now that’s as harsh as anyone can remember.
Yet unlike here, California’s government has been slow to take action. Water restrictions were only announced last month, for example. That doesn’t apply, though, to underground aquifers and they’re being emptied at an alarming rate, as North America correspondent Ben Knight reports.
BEN KNIGHT, REPORTER: In the richest state in the richest country in the world, East Porterville, California, is a town without water.
DONNA JOHNSON, VOLUNTEER: It’s like having a slow-growing cancer. It’s very, very stressful.
This house right here: she had some rentals. One of them is over there and she doesn’t have any water either and her rental doesn’t have any water. Continue reading
Grain production is up, but wells are going dry from the unsustainable use of irrigation water.
In recent years about 27 million wells have been drilled, chasing water tables downward in every Indian state. Even the typically conservative World Bank warned in 2005 that 15% of India’s food was being produced by overpumping groundwater. The situation has not improved, meaning that about 190 million Indians are being fed using water that cannot be sustained. This means that the dietary foundation for about 190 million people could disappear with little warning. Continue reading