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Friday, October 22, 2021

Our Need For Water Is Tapping Ancient Underground Wells. How Long Can They Last? - ScienceAlert

Last updated Saturday, October 9, 2021 01:02 ET , Source: NewsService

Communities that rely on the Colorado River are facing a water crisis. Lake Mead, the river's largest reservoir, has fallen to levels not seen since it was created by the construction of the Hoover Dam roughly a century ago.

Arizona and Nevada are facing their first-ever mandated water cuts, while water is being released from other reservoirs to keep the Colorado River's hydropower plants running.

If even the mighty Colorado and its reservoirs are not immune to the heat and drought worsened by climate change, where will the West get its water?

There's one hidden answer: underground.

As rising temperatures and drought dry up rivers and melt mountain glaciers, people are increasingly dependent on the water under their feet. Groundwater resources currently supply drinking water to nearly half the world's population and roughly 40 percent of water used for irrigation globally.

What many people don't realize is how old – and how vulnerable – much of that water is.

Most water stored underground has been there for decades, and much of it has sat for hundreds, thousands, or even millions of years. Older groundwater tends to reside deep underground, where it is less easily affected by surface conditions such as drought and pollution.

As shallower wells dry out under the pressure of urban development, population growth, and climate change, old groundwater is becoming increasingly important.

Drinking ancient groundwater

If you bit into a piece of bread that was 1,000 years old,...



Read Full Story: https://www.sciencealert.com/our-need-for-water-is-tapping-ancient-underground-wells-how-long-will-they-last

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