SYSTEMIC RISKS

The Earth’s Fresh Water Aquifers Are Depleting

aquifer-water-levels-dropping
Image: Water Resources Research

The total amount of fresh water on earth is a precious commodity. Only 4% of all the Earth’s water is ‘fresh water’, and most of it (~ 70% of the 4%) is unavailable and locked up in ice caps and glaciers. That leaves approximately 30% of the 4%, most of which is deep underground (only 0.0067% is above ground in lakes and rivers!). In the big picture of things, that’s not so much fresh water compared to all water on Earth.

The problem is, new NASA data shows “how the world is running out of water”. More than half of Earth’s 37 largest aquifers are being depleted, according to gravitational data from the GRACE satellite system.


 
The preparedness-minded know that water is a most precious resource. For some it is plentiful, but for others it is scarce or non-existent. The residents of California are now discovering the value of fresh water as they themselves run out. As their severe drought continues, they will be shocked as to what is about to happen (crashing real estate prices, water ‘wars’, and even exodus).

This underscores the recent NASA report which indicates that the world’s largest underground aquifers – a source of fresh water for hundreds of millions of people — are being depleted at alarming rates – including California which is currently tapping aquifers for 60 percent of its water use as its rivers and above-ground reservoirs dry up. Some expect water from aquifers will account for virtually every drop of the state’s fresh water supply by year end.

Aquifers can take thousands of years to fill up and only slowly recharge with water from snow-melt and rains. Now, as great demand has been placed on water from aquifers across the globe, the water reservoirs are being stressed.

California’s Central Valley Aquifer was the most troubled in the United States. Also running a negative balance was the Atlantic and Gulf Coastal Plains Aquifer, which stretches across the southeast coast and Florida.

While there is no eminent fresh water aquifer catastrophe (depending on one’s definition), it is a wake-up call especially for those who live in dry regions – that not only is surface water becoming scarce or non-existent in drought regions, but the aquifers themselves have become stressed and are depleting much faster than they are replenishing.

Most of you know that three days without water and you’re ‘toast’… right?

 
Source: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2015WR017349/abstract

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24 Comments

    1. Correct.
      It’s been known for years that water was going to be the number one issue that would affect the human population.

      Hydrologists have for years been pointing out the situation of depleting aquifers and the eventual “Water Wars”

      It’s not peak oil that will be the problem of the near distant future – it’s peak water.

      If a city or county requires water which is not running or stored by seasonal rainfall and must rely on long time replenishing aquifers then that city or county is doomed.

      Some Asian mega cities are already in water crisis. The water table has risen so far that they have encroached on dugout latrines. Cholera is the result.

  1. I live in a land of lakes and why I moved to my current location. Right now the lakes are full and the Mississippi river is flowing over it’s banks. Those who choose to live in natural desert areas must realize their growing population and industry can’t be sustained using more water than what they get in under natural conditions. If they use other western states water, sooner or later they will run out of other western states water…. because those states barely or don’t have enough for themselves. Hmmm, sounds familiar.

  2. in my little neck of the woods
    the county had to stop pumping from an aquifer we’ve used for decades
    because so much was being pumped,salt water intrusion was starting

    we switched to another aquifer,but the water is not as good
    and my water bill more than doubled

    I guess some years from now due to population growth
    we’ll over pump this aquifer and then we’re screwed
    we’ll have to pull water from the river
    and that is some nasty stuff

    1. @Satori, That sounds all too close to home. Cannot use the amount of water that is listed for the bottom line $ payment; the minimun use charge. More contaminents too boot. Flouride is showing up in the water that never had it before. And, an arm long list of toxins, which clearly you have to pay a premium for. o… Survive-All…

  3. People have been and continue to move to “Sunny California”. They have built some of the most splendid golf resorts in the country; water features in gated communities are a must. They are only getting what they deserve!

    1. I’d tap the brakes on the “they are only getting what they deserve” comment. Some of us live in SoCal because this is where the job took us. We tried leaving but the job market prevented that. I sometimes tire of people putting this unfair brand on Californians, assuming we are all selfish, spoiled, etc. The same ass holes that live in Cali live in every single state. We might have more of them out here, but they are everywhere. So, when you say we are only getting what we deserve, then you are ultimately cursing my family (including my kids) and all the wonderful I know and have cut back on their water use. And if I remember correctly, Texas was hit by a pretty nasty drought a few years back…did they get what they deserved as well?

      1. I agree with you completely. Life long, born and raised Californian. Was a great place till all the people from other states moved in and then their jealous relatives do nothing but complain about how bad we are. Maybe Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah, Oregon and Washington deserve it also.

      2. I too am in S. Kalifornia. And I am stuck here for better or worse. Bottom line: The Enviros and the Tree Huggers are to blame for all of the current issues in Kalifornia water wise. They have resisted, fought in court, and brought to a standstill all water projects from the mid 1970’s until now.

        We should feed those people to the sharks, and start building Dams and Reservoirs, NOT high speed trains.

  4. you wrote..”Aquifers can take thousands of years to fill up and only slowly recharge with water”..

    a concern / problem I have read of, is that if Aquifers are well and truly sucked dry, they collapse, and then there is no place for the runoff/melt to collect in…

    1. Aquifers are nothing more than rock that has permeability. It will not collapse if it has no water in it. Something else, “salt water”, will move in to take its place.

    2. @Anon
      Interesting that you mentioned the “sinking” affect of draining aquifers. I have read reports somewhere (could find again if needed) that some areas of SoCo are actually sinking from the water being pulled from the sands there. And it will indeed take thousands of years, if at all, to “replace” the water infiltrating the aquifers there.

      This is NOT a small problem in SoCo and the “largest” food producing areas of the US. There are some very interesting articles around that explain the impact of food cost that “will” happen in the world as less and less food is produced. Some predict (like predicting the weather) the price of produce from SoCo will increase 30-50% within one year.
      NRP

      1. I have seen/read many of those reports of the land sinking due to this. So many in fact, am starting to wonder if they are indeed true. At first I thought it was some scam/joke, but, wondering…Some of the reports I have read report on significant sinkage of large land areas…?

  5. We are currently inundated with water in northern Indiana. Water is never an issue. I have a 120 foot deep well that had static water at 24 feet during one of the worst drought years we have had in decades. That was 4 years ago. We have had tons of rain and water since then. My wife wants to move to a warmer part of the country, but all things considered, I really think we have everything we need right here. A 1/2 acre pond and running creek on the property with a deep reliable well. Works for me!

    1. Emma…

      “sort of”…that is..

      I agree we are not running out of water

      BUT I would suggest

      “we are running out of unpolluted / uncontaminated / “safe” drinking water.

  6. If I recall my physics knowledge, we have the same quantity of water since the creation of earth. The problem is distribution & access. Matter is neither destroyed or created.

    1. @FBG, That is exactly correct. The problem is the accessible portion and current distribution in ‘the cycle’ of fresh ‘drinking’ water.

  7. those damned commieforinas had better NOT start tryin to spread there bs else where they will find it wont fly in other places

    1. @ article
      Some of my family lives in OR. they tell me there is already a HUGE move from SoCo to OR. going on, by the thousands. Buying up every spot of real-estate they can get their hands on. My Brother is a real-estate agent in Portland (and yes I give him HE!! for it) he’s saying that a home put on the market will only last 4-6 hours before they have a signed contract on it. So yes the exodus is already started.
      NRP

  8. Interesting subject to return to.
    I just completed survival training in the EVERGLADES here in Florida.
    Water? Everywhere, more like water world. One of the most difficult survival training trips I have encountered.
    Torrential rains, high heat and humidity. The scariest thing, lightning!
    But I made it, not something I want to do again, but if I have to can.

    Florida, still has its own water problem. The counties that do not have rivers to tap for a water source. All pump, from different sources under ground. Salt water intrusion is a major problem.
    Sink holes are another problem, with the velocities of water being removed.
    There is something like 1500 people moving here everyday. And the major metro. Areas all pump water from underground.
    Sooner or later, something has to give..

    1. Florida is a huge sandbar.
      I’ve read that if sea level rose by 10′ the southern 1/3rd of Florida would be under water.

  9. Huge, obtainable, freshwater reserves located beneath the sea floor. See online article by Dr. Vincent Post.

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