Can pumping too much groundwater raise sea level?

cott K. Johnson

Can pumping too much groundwater raise sea level?

The Ogallala Aquifer

The overuse of groundwater is a concern that looms over discussions of water supply in many regions around the world. Many groundwater aquifers are pumped more quickly than they can be replenished, meaning wells have to be drilled deeper and deeper to reach an ever-diminishing resource.

The Ogallala Aquifer, which extends from Nebraska to Texas, is a prime example. There, groundwater irrigation has made productive agriculture possible in an otherwise dry region. The rate of water use, unfortunately, is not sustainable. In some places, groundwater is pumped over 20 times faster than it is recharged by precipitation, and water levels have steadily dropped. Some refer to this as “groundwater mining” because it took some 30,000 years to fill the aquifer—once it’s pumped dry, it won’t soon refill.

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