Drill, baby, drill! The scarcity of potable groundwater is leading to an unsustainable practice of digging deeper and deeper water wells.
Americans are digging deeper and deeper wells to meet our water demands. Nearly 120 million Americans rely on underground aquifers for drinking water (American Society of Civil Engineers). We are using up potable water much faster than it can be replenished, which is becoming a global water crisis.
Water systems throughout the U.S. are at risk of failing to provide potable drinking water. America's aging infrastructure is in desperate need of repair, including the country's drinking water systems.
Water levels are dropping for large populations and farming regions, across the country. Drilling increasingly deeper water wells creates water access inequalities. Impoverished areas are impacted the most as they can not pay for the costs associated with deeper wells and water treatment.
Deeper wells can also tap into brackish water, which may be too salty for irrigation or drinking. That requires extensive desalination and filtering. At this time there is no regulation that sets a standard for quality of that brackish water deep in the aquifers. The threat of contamination is real, as the fossil fuel industry injects chemical-tainted water to hydro-frac out underground that oil and gas wells.
The widespread approach of drilling deeper wells is an unsustainable stopgap measure, putting communities on a path toward exhausting their water supplies. Deep aquifers are often saltier and may require costly treatment to use the water.
The U.S. Geological Survey reports that groundwater pumping has caused the flow in U.S. rivers to decline by as much as half over the past century. Global warming is adding to strains on water supplies and is projected to bring more intense droughts.
The Center for Biological Diversity reports that increased pumping of groundwater is depleting rivers across the country. The impact on our ecosystem and our water supplies is at risk due to the pumping far outpaces the recharge groundwater gets from rainfall.
If water levels decline further there, irrigation wells will dry up, affecting farms and crop production. All forms of deep drilling, especially hydraulic fracturing poses real threats to water supplies. Large quantities of water and chemicals must be injected underground. Thus fracking can pose a threat to local water resources.
Groundwater becomes contaminated by hydraulic fracturing in a number of ways, including leakage from liquid storage areas, leakage from injection wells, leakage during hydrofracking along faults or up abandoned wells, seepage into the ground when wastewater and residuals are applied to land and other means.
Organizations like GreenPeace are working hard to stop these unsustainable practices. Help turn the tide, do what you can.
Water is life.
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