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Groundwater Decline and Depletion

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Groundwater is a valuable resource both in the United States and throughout the world. Groundwater depletion, a term often defined as long-term water-level declines caused by sustained groundwater pumping, is a key issue associated with groundwater use. Many areas of the United States are experiencing groundwater depletion.

Groundwater Decline and Depletion

Groundwater is a valuable resource both in the United States and throughout the world. Where surface water, such as lakes and rivers, are scarce or inaccessible, groundwater supplies many of the hydrologic needs of people everywhere. In the United States, it is the source of drinking water for about half the total population and nearly all of the rural population, and it provides over 50 billion gallons per day for agricultural needs. Groundwater depletion, a term often defined as long-term water-level declines caused by sustained groundwater pumping, is a key issue associated with groundwater use. Many areas of the United States are experiencing groundwater depletion.

Excessive pumping can overdraw the groundwater “bank account”

The water stored in the ground can be compared to money kept in a bank account. If you withdraw money at a faster rate than you deposit new money you will eventually start having account-supply problems. Pumping water out of the ground faster than it is replenished over the long-term causes similar problems. The volume of groundwater in storage is decreasing in many areas of the United States in response to pumping. Groundwater depletion is primarily caused by sustained groundwater pumping. Some of the negative effects of groundwater depletion:

  • drying up of wells
  • reduction of water in streams and lakes
  • deterioration of water quality
  • increased pumping costs
  • land subsidence

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