Groundwater Resource Management

Introduction

Almost a quarter of all rainfall is absorbed by the ground and is stored in underground aquifers. it can take thousands of years for aquifers to replenish depending on the size. Groundwater is used for manufacturing, irrigation, drinking and other daily human water needs.


Why are we harvesting this resource?

Groundwater is a highly valuable resource for Canadians. Almost a third of Canadians depend on groundwater for drinking, agriculture, manufacturing and daily water needs (http://www.ec.gc.ca, 2011). Majority of the water extracted from underground aquifers is used for irrgation and agriculture. The farming industry requires the most water for crops and cattle. With all its uses, groundwater is being extracted faster than it can be replenished. At this rate, the groundwater reserves are predicted to dry out in 55 years in some areas of the world. Aside from extracting groundwater, it is also being contaminated by industrial, agricultural and even home practises.
GEF:Learn - Aquifers

What are the impacts?

Groundwater can take decades to hundreds of years to recharge. Only 3% of the world's water is freshwater that is suitable for agriculture and home use. Two thirds of that water is frozen in glaciers and ice-bergs. Groundwater accounts for less than 1% of the world's water content. If the water is extracted at the same rate as it is currently is, the water will run out, leaving the people dependent on wells without easy access to water. The next best source of water is surface water but not all populated areas have the benefit of being located near a river or lake.


Industrial, agricultural and residential waste seeps into the ground and into aquifers, contaminating the water and leaving entire wells useless. It can take upto 30 years for these contaminants to seep down into an aquifer before contaminating it so it is very difficult to track the source of contamination.

How can we sustainably use groundwater?

Groundwater use policies should be based on their recharge capabilities and not their current capacities in order to allow the aquifer to have adequate water at all times.



Water quality and water consumption must be monitored strictly throughout the year. This will ensure that the water is free of contaminants and also if there are any fluctuations in water usage that need to be addressed such as growing consumption etc.


There are cities that require consumers to pay water on a per-use basis. This makes water a commodity, not a resource which results in less usage as the customer is not paying a fixed fee for unlimited water. This method of paying for water must be implemented in as many communities as possible.


Resources must be expended on tracing and tracking contaminants which pollute aquifers. Locals must be taught the dangers of using biocides on lawns which lead to the contamination of groundwater.

Groundwater Pollution