Groundwater serves as a source of drinking water for 51% of the overall U.S. population and 99.9% of the rural population. Groundwater aids in the growth of our food. 64 percent of groundwater is used for agriculture irrigation. Groundwater serves as a recharge source for lakes, rivers, and wetlands. It also provides flood control and erosion prevention.
Groundwater is important to our nation's economy. The total value of the industry is estimated at $138 billion annually. The primary use of this economic resource is for agricultural irrigation, but it is also used for industrial processes, household use, and recreation.
The American public has come to appreciate that groundwater is a limited resource that must be managed wisely if we want there to be enough of it for future generations. Overuse of this resource leads to its depletion which may lead to environmental and health problems for humans use as well as loss of biodiversity.
Currently, groundwater is overused as an agricultural irrigation supplement, for household needs, and for commercial and industrial applications. Agricultural irrigation accounts for nearly half of all withdrawals. The other major use of groundwater is for household needs such as washing dishes, watering lawns, and filling pools. Commercial and industrial users account for about one-fifth of all withdrawals.
It is predicted that by 2050, two-thirds of the world's population will live in areas where drought stress could harm agricultural production.
A quarter Groundwater supplies 25% of the fresh water consumed in the United States. It is especially useful for irrigation and home usage in desert or isolated places where surface water may be scarce or difficult to get. Groundwater is also important for industry and power generation.
The amount of groundwater available for use on a daily basis varies by state but is generally about 1 billion gallons per day. Alaska has the most extensive system with approximately 170 feet of average depth. By comparison, California's system is limited to 70-100 feet of average depth. Texas and New Mexico have relatively shallow systems of less than 20 feet deep.
Groundwater is drawn up through soil pores and into wells. It collects in porous layers of rock called aquifers. The thickest layer of rock (more than 500 feet thick) under California is known as the Mojave Desert. Most groundwater flows toward lower ground levels. It is contained by natural barriers such as mountains or deserts, so it cannot escape entirely, but instead forms reservoirs that store water for future use.
Groundwater is affected by many factors including precipitation, drought, land use, population growth, and climate change. Some areas are experiencing severe depletion while others have very limited availability. Groundwater resources are carefully managed by state agencies in each place where they are used because overdrafting can lead to flooding or contamination.
In 2015, groundwater sources supplied around 29 percent of the freshwater utilized in the United States. The remaining 71% came from surface water. Groundwater is an extremely significant natural resource in areas of the country where surface water is scarce, such as the dry West. Without groundwater, many people would have no choice but to rely on impermanent sources of surface water, such as lakes and rivers, which can be affected by environmental factors such as drought and flooding.
Groundwater is the name given to the water found underground. It can contain various minerals and chemicals that may not be present in the water at the surface. In some cases, groundwater may even be contaminated with pollutants such as pesticides or industrial chemicals.
However, the term "groundwater" also includes water that has only recently been discovered below ground. Some scientists believe that parts of the Earth's crust are still being formed deep beneath our feet. When rocks break down they release energy that is captured as groundwater. This newly discovered water is called "extratropical cyclone-generated groundwater." It flows into nearby valleys where it fills up basins that would otherwise be empty.
Water is needed for life; therefore, extracting groundwater to meet human needs is essential to conserve our most valuable resource. Extraction can be done either legally or illegally. Legally, groundwater is extracted for purposes such as agriculture, municipal use, and industry.
Groundwater is utilized to irrigate large areas of agricultural land. Mining and coal seam gas extraction are two more activities that use groundwater. Above importantly, it is a vital source of drinking water, providing half of the world's total demands. Groundwater is also used in industry for manufacturing processes that require a constant temperature and pH condition.
Groundwater is water that is below the surface of the earth. The word "groundwater" comes from the Latin word "underground," gurundus, which means "relating to wells." The water we drink comes from the rain or melts snow on the ground. Some of this water flows into underground streams that feed larger rivers and lakes. But most of it stays close to the surface, filling up hollows and cracks in the soil until it reaches caves or sinkholes where it may remain for years. This fresh water is called groundwater because it was once part of the rock layer above ground. As it moves downward it becomes saltier and less able to flow freely into underground channels or seep away from its basin of origin. Saltwater intrusion occurs when seawater enters freshwater aquifers, causing problems with irrigation and drinking water supplies.
Groundwater is important for humans because we need it to live. Without groundwater, there would be no way to grow enough food to meet the needs of an increasing population.
Throughout the province, groundwater is a major source of water for private wells, public water supplies, agricultural supplies, industrial supplies, and commercial supplies. Groundwater is also important to the economy because it is used for residential and commercial drinking water, agriculture, industry, and tourism.
Groundwater is becoming increasingly important to Nova Scotia's future health because most communities rely heavily on this resource. The slow withdrawal of groundwater for use elsewhere or loss through seepage causes levels to drop low enough to affect supply for cities and farms. Uncontrolled pumping can lead to flooding or desertification on land where deep drilling is done, and ocean encroachment in coastal areas where shallow extraction affects sea walls and other shoreline protection efforts.
Currently, there are two main types of groundwater management practices used in Nova Scotia: protected well systems and controlled drainage systems. In a protected well system, one or more wells are dug down to bedrock or to a protective cover (such as clay) that reaches bedrock. The well(s) are then sealed off from surface contamination by some type of filtration system (such as sand or gravel). If contamination does reach the seal, the system can be repaired or replaced without further contaminating deeper sources of water.