Since the 1960's, the use of groundwater has more than doubled. Approximately 70-80% of groundwater is used for agricultural purposes. Most of this water ends up going into the oceans, which also impacts the rising sea levels. A large concern is the rate at which the groundwater is being used. Aquifers are being depleted much faster than they can be replenished.
A study was recently conducted by members of Utrecht University and the International Groundwater Resources Assessment Center at Deltares in the Netherlands. This research helped to identify areas where high groundwater depletion is occurring. Findings were published in Geophysical Research Letters, and a recap of some of the important points can be seen in the Discovery News article: Groundwater Levels Draining Fast. The article also provides some suggestions for how new irrigation techniques might be used to slow groundwater usage.
For further reading, see our recommended reading list for Understanding and Protecting Groundwater.
Photo Courtesy of The Western Producer.