The Importance of Groundwater
In recognition of Groundwater Awareness Week, the NGWA hopes that more people will take the time to realize just how vital groundwater is to us. Simply put, life as we know it would not be possible without groundwater.
The National Ground Water Association provides opportunities for people to learn about the importance of groundwater. For Groundwater Awareness Week, the Association has listed some interesting facts and how groundwater affects us in the U.S., as well as on a global level.
“National Groundwater Awareness Week is a time to take stock of this most important natural resource,” said NGWA Director of General Public Outreach Cliff Treyens.
“In times of drought or groundwater contamination — when people are noticeably affected — the value of groundwater becomes clear,” said Treyens. “What was said more than 200 years ago remains true today: ‘When the well runs dry, we shall know the value of water.’”
It is estimated that groundwater makes up an estimated 99 percent of all freshwater in the world. Here are some more interesting groundwater facts:
- The 76 bgd used in the United States equals 1 billion, 586 million bathtubs full of water, enough to circle the Earth more than 60 times
- India is the largest groundwater user in the world, using 66.3 trillion gallons in one year — enough water to fill an 18-inch-diameter pipeline to the Moon and back — 2,000 times
- Groundwater is under most of the Earth’s surface
- Under Africa’s Sahara Desert, there’s 20 times more groundwater than all the surface water in the entire continent’s lakes.
- Groundwater is the world’s most extracted raw material withdrawal rates currently in the estimated range of 982 km3/year.
- About 60 percent of groundwater withdrawn worldwide is used for agriculture; the rest is almost equally divided between the domestic and industrial sectors.
- In many nations, more than half of the groundwater withdrawn is for domestic water supplies and globally it provides 25 to 40 percent of the world’s drinking water.
- Globally, about 38 percent of irrigated lands are equipped for irrigation with groundwater.
In the United States uses:
- 76 billion gallons of groundwater a day (bgd) for all purposes
- 49.5 bgd for agricultural irrigation
- 15.7 bgd for public water supplies
- 3.5 bgd for individual households through privately owned water wells
- 3 bgd for livestock and aquaculture
- 2.9 bgd for industry (self-supplied)
- 1.1 bgd for mining
- Nearly 600 million gallons per day for thermoelectric power generation.
Treyens urges the public to visit NGWA’s groundwater fundamentals web page, as well as its website, WellOwner.org, where well owners can learn information vital to take care of their water quality and their wells.