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Managing Groundwater Needs Policy and Knowledge

One resource, buried underground and in finite supply, is increasingly becoming the lynchpin of modern economies. There is fierce competition for its use and we don’t know how much of it can be exploited sustainably. It is not oil. It is groundwater.

By 2030, almost half of the global population (that’s 3.9 billion people) is expected to experience severe water scarcity. This is predicted to shave six per cent off GDP in the driest regions. As the food riots of 2008 demonstrated, it also spells potential disaster for food security, as irrigation for agriculture uses the lion’s share of water supplies.

Groundwater, found in sand and rock under the earth’s surface, provides a critical lifeline for water-stressed communities where rainfall and river flows fluctuate. In fact, groundwater already irrigates more than 40% of irrigated land. It contributes to the health of local communities, ecosystems and economic growth, through its reliable, steady supply. Yet an increasingly variable climate and growing populations have accelerated demand for groundwater beyond sustainable levels.

Alex Drop

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