Groundwater is drying up, resulting in people digging wells deeper.

Hotter temperatures and overuse by industry and agriculture has put great strain on America’s groundwater system, and it’s forcing people to dig wells deeper to get the water they need.

As someone who lives in a rural area far away from a municipal water utility, my property has a well that supplies my water needs every day. I appreciate this supply, and try my best to use it as wisely as possible so as not to waste it. My water comes from a natural aquifer, which is an underground freshwater source.

But because of climate change, temperatures are getting warmer, resulting in droughts that inevitably cause water tables to drop. Water is also overused by an increasingly thirsty agriculture industry, especially the beef industry, as just one pound of beef requires thousands of gallons of water to produce.

We would use far less water if we ate more wheat and veggies.

But a hotter and drier climate combined with industrial greed is causing groundwater to dry up, which is forcing the drilling of deeper wells, and such a strategy is unsustainable.

In just the last 65 years alone, the Ogallala aquifer in the Midwest has dropped a staggering 16 feet. And unless an oil spill poisons it first, the aquifer will dry up, depriving millions of people of water.

Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of data about the state of groundwater wells, as University of California-Santa Barbara professor Debra Perrone explained.

“We actually don’t know that much about how much groundwater is being used and where groundwater wells are located,” she said. “Groundwater is often referred to as an invisible resource. Groundwater wells are small, they’re distributed, they’re often lost among the landscape.”

And not all of them are deep enough to keep the water flowing, as Perrone found out as she and her team set out to put together a groundwater well database.

Approximately 70 percent of those who rely on groundwater have drilled deeper wells across the country, likely as a result of lower water levels.

But it’s only a temporary solution.

“Drilling deeper is not a sustainable, long-term solution,” Perrone said. “It’s more of a stopgap solution.”

Indeed, the water level is just going to get lower and that should be a scary enough prospect that instead of digging deeper, people who rely on wells must demand a switch to a sustainable food supply that relies on less water and a major offensive to fight climate change so that temperatures don’t climb high enough to permanently dry up all the water underground.

Water is life. That’s very evident to someone like me who relies on a well. Sometimes, I worry about it drying up or even running low, especially when the water pressure isn’t quite right. Sure, it turned out to be just a filter that needed to be cleaned, but one day that may not be the case.

All of us need water to survive and climate change and Big Agriculture are hogging it to the point that water levels are plummeting. We cannot sustain such a system any longer. If we want to save our water and continue to live in rural areas, we need to take this problem seriously before it’s too late.

Featured Image: Wikimedia

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Stephen D. Foster Jr.
 

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