Human thirst for fresh water is gradually draining rivers that are a landscape around the world, a study of groundwater shows.
The underground aquifer accounts for the majority of the freshwater that humans can exploit to live on earth. According to overall figures, about 70% of groundwater used worldwide is for agriculture. But surface water like rivers and streams also relies on groundwater. When people pump too much too quickly from groundwater, the natural waterway is empty, damaging the freshwater ecosystem.
Excessive pumping from groundwater is damaging river ecosystems around the world.Pictured is the Ganges River in India.(Photo: GETTY IMAGES).
A study published in the Journal of Nature recently found that groundwater pumping has exploded to what scientists call an environmental flow limit , meaning 15 to 21 percent of the The river basin has been affected by human exploitation. Most of these rivers and streams are located in drier regions like Mexico and northern India, where groundwater is used for irrigation.
If groundwater extraction continues at the present level, the author estimates before 2050, approximately 42 to 79% of the river basin will be affected or exceed this threshold.
This is an alarming problem, said Inge de Graaf, a hydrologist at Freiburg University in Germany.Groundwater and surface water are intimately linked, and excessive pumping of groundwater will create a 'time bomb' for river basins .
A healthy aquifer has ecosystems that resist seasonal fluctuations in water, providing stability to the plants and animals that rely on it. But if too much groundwater is pumped out, surface water begins to seep into the aquifer below, draining out the vitality from the many habitats of rivers and streams.
According to Mr. De Graaf, we need to think about this now, not 10 years. We can reduce the pumping of water in these areas, develop better irrigation systems.'Our research shows where to target more sustainable efforts , ' the scientist said.