Sunday, September 26, 2010

Water - So Much Less Than We Imagine

What do the United States, India, China and Pakistan have in common?

Well, according to a study from the University of Utrecht, they're the four countries most imperiled from groundwater depletion.   Oh yeah, and they all have nuclear arsenals.

Three of them are facing a freshwater crisis, have nuclear arsenals, and vie for the same Himalayan headwaters.  That, of course, would be India, China and Pakistan.  To complicate matters, those three have various disputes about the others' claims to those headwaters.  From The Montreal Gazette:

"The report from Utrecht University, scheduled for release in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, says the U.S., India, Pakistan and China are the sources of greatest depletion of groundwater resources.

"The drier areas of the world where surface water is scarce, people often make use of pumped groundwater. This groundwater is used for irrigating crops, as water for drinking or for industry," says a news release from the university. "The result is that rivers and wetlands dry up and groundwater levels sink so deep that it becomes impossible to inflate. This depletion of groundwater resources can lead to ecological disasters and even famine."

"It's a funny resource because we can't see it, we tend not to think about it and presume it's OK," John Pomeroy, Canada Research Chair in water resources and climate change at the University of Saskatchewan said. "It's interesting when there's such a massive global reduction of supply and . . . that's a real worry. We're relatively fortunate here that we don't have major agricultural use of groundwater."

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