In Spain, Iran, China, and the United States, some areas are facing more than 2 meters of groundwater depletion every year.
A big study in the journal Nature is telling us that groundwater, the water below the Earth’s surface, is going down fast worldwide. The study took over 40 years and looked at data from more than 1,70,000 wells in 40 countries. It says that bad farming practices and the changing climate are the main reasons for this problem.
Groundwater is super important for farming, homes, and industries. But now, it’s running out, and that could cause serious problems for our economy and the environment. This includes less food from crops and the land sinking, especially in places near the coast.
A person named Scott Jasechko from the University of California, Santa Barbara, who helped with the study, says that taking too much water from the ground for farming in dry areas is a big reason for this decline. The study found that dry areas with lots of farmland are getting hit the hardest. Places like northern China, Iran, and the western United States are seeing big drops in groundwater.
Even more worrying, more than a third of the 1,693 areas where they checked groundwater levels showed a drop of at least 0.1 meters (3.94 inches) every year from 2000 to 2022. In some places, it’s even worse, with a 12% decline of over 0.5 meters each year. In Spain, Iran, China, and the United States, some areas are losing more than 2 meters of groundwater every year. In parts of India, they’ve already used up too much groundwater.
Since the year 2000, around 30% of these groundwater areas are running out faster. Some are getting better because people are trying to save water and make rules about using less, but it’s not happening enough. The study says we could refill these groundwater areas by getting water from other places, but it’s going to take a lot of work to turn things around.
This study is telling us that we need to do something right now to take better care of our groundwater. If we don’t change how we use and take care of groundwater, we might have a future where this once-abundant water source becomes rare. This could hurt our food, the environment, and the lives of many people who rely on it.