Fresh water is one of our most
important natural resources because it’s needed for survival and
there is no substitute for it. Unlike energy, which has many
alternative forms there are no alternatives for water. Most of our
earth is covered by water, but only a tiny amount is available for
fresh water. The amount of accessible fresh water varies from country
to country and region to region. The United States has abundant
amount of water, but many regions have shortages and this is where
groundwater comes in. Groundwater is very important to these parts of
the world; it is used for farming and drinking in these areas.
Groundwater helps these area’s tremendously and has to be used in
normal quantities as they are liable to run out which causes many
problems such as sinkholes, human displacement, and for soil to be
totally drained of water useless for agricultural purposes. Even
though tapping aquifers is a very practical idea it has some set
backs as it can have disastrous effects if polluted or over used.
Groundwater originates as water or melting snow that seeps into the
soil and finds it’s way down through cracks and spaces in rock
until it is stopped by a impermeable layer of rock, where it forms as
groundwater. The porous layers of underground rock in which the
groundwater is stored are called aquifers. These aquifers can either
be confined or unconfined. The aquifers that are replaced by surface
water directly above them are called unconfined.
aquifers are water deposits that are stuck between two layers of
impermeable rock; this is sometimes called artesian wells. The water
in artesian well is under extreme pressure and is often the most
popular choice for wells as you can estimate the amount of water in
them and be very accurate.
There are many
advantages to using groundwater for house water and farming in many
parts of the world. In a desert there are very few waterways and this
makes living here near impossible. With underground water supplies
you can access water which does not take up surface water which takes
up valuable farming land. In small countries this is particularly
important as the more area for farming the better. When surface water
such as rivers and lakes are used for house and drinking water many
lakes water levels are lowered to dangerously low levels which could
kill many types of animal species in these areas. The water has an
abundance of minerals in it which are lost when the water level goes
down which can not be leached into the soil from lakes and rivers.
When living in large metropolis areas such as Tucson, Miami, Phoenix,
and Memphis where there are not many lakes located in the middle of
the large cities and thus they have to get there water from somewhere
groundwater many cities in this area would not exist, as there is no
fresh water sources nearby causing them to have to drill for water.
The use of groundwater also helps nature as it helps in the
prevention of flooding. When area’s need water they look to surface
water and if there is none they use groundwater. If there is not much
water in an area they will damn the water source and it will flood
the land killing many animals and there homes. By using groundwater
they save animals homes and get good drinking water. Groundwater also
has its problems. There may be more problems than advantages as so
much can happen if groundwater is used excessively. When an aquifer
is drained enough the earth around it will start to lose it’s
support causing sinkholes. These can cause lot of damage to personal
property and endanger human life. In Winter park, Florida a sinkhole
occurred that was 400 hundred feet wide and 125 feet deep. Sinkholes
can happen in seconds and often have no warning to when they are
going to appear.
that experience sinkholes do not feel the full effect of sinkholes.
This is because the land sinks over periods of time, which most
people can not detect. But studies have shown in the last 40 years in
Texas, lands on the Ogallala aquifer have sunk of levels up to 21 m.
The overuse of an aquifer near coastal areas can cause salt water
intrusion which happens when a aquifer is depleted faster than it can
replenish itself, So water from the oceans filter into the systems.
Salt water intrusion happens in area such as Florida, Texas,
Louisiana, and Southern California are feeling the effects of this as
much of their drinking water has been eliminated. Salt-water
intrusion is very bad as it makes the drinking water too saline to
drink or farm with. If water is too salty there is only so much you
can purify and it still may be too saline. The process of filtering
the water is long and costly process which most people are not
willing to pay for. When the water is full of salt it kills the soil
around it by accumulating in the soil making the crop production of
the soil go down and in some cases it makes the soil virtually
ungrowable. This has tremendous side-effects on people as it may
interfere with there farming career. Most areas depend on aquifers
and if they are too saline they are not drinkable or useable meaning
they have to get there drinking water from somewhere else. This
process is very costly as water is hard to transport in large
quantities and it is a very ineffective method of getting water to an
area. Maybe the most major downfall of groundwater is how easily it
can get polluted. May large aquifers are starting to become very
polluted from any chemicals being dumped into rivers that flow down
and leach down through the soil and settle in the earth. Pesticides
being used on agricultural areas find their way into groundwater,
sewage, industrial waste, and garbage dumps all contribute to this
problem. This is a problem, which will not just go away as the
dirtied water, will just sit there and collect more pollutants never
riding itself of these chemicals. This is a major problem in the
Great Reef aquifer that stretches from Southern California to
Large amounts of
industrial waste are put into the system in California and the
chemicals spread through the water effecting people who live in he
Colorado area. Pesticides that are having widespread use in
California also have the same effect as they are used in fruit
farming and they also end up in the reservoirs. The pollution of the
aquifers has a tremendous effect on the people getting there water
supply as these chemicals in the water can cause cancers, birth
defects and serious illnesses for people who drink, and bathe in the
water regularly. The pollution in the aquifers have a chain effect
meaning that whatever is put in them from somewhere else it can
effect people that had nothing to do with the pollution in the first
place. Considering that over 50 % of the United States gets it’s
drinking water from aquifers we know that it is maybe our most
valuable resource on the planet even though it can not be measured in
dollars and cents. Water levels in the aquifers are predicted to drop
if further mass consumption continues in the United States, which may
prove to be disastrous to the ability of having enough fresh water
for it’s growing population and industry. In the last 35 years
groundwater consumption has gone from 21 billion to 89 billion
gallons in a day. If this rate of consumption continues at the
current level three of the largest aquifers will be at dangerously
low levels in 100 years. Much action needs to be taken to prevent the
groundwater from being polluted and depleted as so much of our
everyday lives depends on it. Right now there are almost no
significant projects to conserve this resource which is a shame as
soon people may be paying major dollars for water as it will need to
be cleaned so heavily. And if that does not work we will have to
drink water that is full of chemicals and sewage.
The idea of
water being gone maybe a bit alarmist but if nothing is done to
balance the water being taken out in it may be too late to do
anything about it. Groundwater is a great resource if used properly,
if it is not used properly it can have a tremendous effect on our
lives. I think that groundwater is worth the hassle but we need to
practice better conservation methods. Have fun with this paper—-do
u see this?
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