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AMERICA’S GROUNDWATER: ARE WE DOING ENOUGH TO SAVE IT?
An NPG Forum Paper
by Christopher J. Daly
“When the well’s dry, we know the worth of water.”
– Ben Franklin
This review of the current status of groundwater in the United States takes a general overall look at current groundwater levels throughout the nation. It will further examine specific aquifers (the Floridan, Ogallala/High Plains, and Central Valley) and how certain states, grappling with dwindling supplies of water, are very dependent on the health of these aquifers for their future.
How threatened are America’s aquifers, which have been around for millions of years, when it comes to their long-term future? The answer to that question lies in present levels of groundwater, success of replenishment efforts, management policies set by federal, state and local governments – as well as the cooperation of individual property owners with those policies – and the pressure of increased population and a “growth at any cost”
mentality on a multitude of fronts.
AMERICA’S GROUNDWATER: AN OVERVIEW
Mention the terms “groundwater” and “aquifers” to most Americans and you will get a ho-hum reaction. Decades-long supplies of groundwater are critical to the health and well-being of our nation well into the future, yet the issue of how much “old” water and “replenished” water lies beneath our states, counties, cities, and farms does not show up on the list of major topics that dominate the national conversation.
However, that may all be about to change. Alarm bells – some ringing more loudly than others – are going off throughout the United States.
Groundwater is being used up at an ever-increasing pace. And lower levels of this valuable resource in key aquifers mean less local water for the communities, farms, businesses and wildlife that depend on the water lying in the earth beneath them. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) states: “An aquifer can be compared to a bank account, and groundwater occurring in an aquifer is analogous to the money in the account.” It also noted: “Groundwater is the source of drinking water for about half the nation and nearly all of the rural population, and it provides over 50 billion gallons per day in support of the nation’s agricultural economy.”
Continue reading the full Forum paper by clicking here.
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