Not long ago I posted an item about the effects of worsening droughts in the USA and elsewhere. I cited the state of Arizona’s action to forbid the city of Phoenix from continuing to build housing developments because there simply was not enough water to provide water service to any more homes. Since then, I’ve seen that action cited in several mainstream media outlets. I included in that post a link which showed the USA’s drought monitor map. Keep in mind that the drought monitor map is based on the water content of the surface soil (topsoil and perhaps some of the subsoil). This post will address a broader problem with the USA’s water supplies. Many millions of acres of croplands of all kinds are irrigated via the use of subterranean water which comes from wells which can be many hundreds of feet deep. This post will focus on the crisis of our deep-water aquifers running dry from the over pumping of water from them (first link).
My attention was drawn to this subject by an article in the August 30, 2023 issue of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. The article was entitled “Aquifers going dry next climate crisis.” I would have included it with the links for this post but it was a reprint of an article in the New York Times, which generally does not make its articles publicly available on the internet. The authors of that article are listed as Mira Rojansakul, Christopher Flavelle, Blacki Migliozzi and Eli Murray if you can find it in your own search efforts. I will cite key portions of that article. The article states that wells are going dry in California, Long Island, Utah, Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma, etc. so this is a national problem. It reports that “many of the aquifers that supply 90% of the nation’s water systems…are being severely depleted,” and reports that “there will be parts of the U.S. that run out of drinking water.” It adds that the “center-pivot” irrigation systems are the main culprit in causing the depletion of the aquifers’ water supplies, and that as the wells increasingly run dry, the agricultural properties will lose their value and perhaps becoming unsalable. The article cites wells in Western Kansas as being examples of a location where wells are already going dry.
The second link and third link also cite the New York Times article and add new information on the crisis. The second link notes that while it takes millions of years to fill an aquifer, it can be drained in just 50 years. I can recall in elementary grades being taught about the Ogallala Aquifer which existed underneath many prairie and western states. It was then taught that the aquifer had virtually unlimited water reserves to be tapped. We now know those reserves are getting close to being tapped out. The second link also warns of another problem about aquifer depletion that could easily go unnoticed until it is too late. It discusses the fact that as fresh water aquifers are being pumped dry in seacoast regions that “all coastal regions” will be seriously affected by this silent crisis. The reason? As fresh-water aquifers on the coasts are pumped dry, salty sea-water will encroach into the inland aquifers and replace their fresh-water supplies with salt water–which is unsuitable for use in city water systems or agriculture. Knowing this can and will happen, city and regional water systems in all coastal areas would be well-advised to build water desalinization plants with some measure of haste. Not only will there be a water supply crisis due to aquifer draining, but I think this will lead to a major real estate crisis too. Cities that run out of water will have to severely ration remaining water supplies to the bare essentials. This will eventually result in private swimming pools and golf courses being cut off from water supplies as they are “non-essential” water usages. Cities and regions that cannot supply enough water to their existing real estate properties will see the values of their houses and buildings drop…perhaps precipitously as people will have to migrate to cities and regions that do still have enough water. The New York Times article that I read in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune did not offer a specific year when this crisis will hit hard in the USA.
The fourth link focuses on the crisis of depleted aquifer water in California. The article, written in 2022, reports that while about 100 wells were running dry each year in California from 2018-2020, 1,200 wells ran dry in that state in 2022, a symptom that the aquifer under that state is being depleted rapidly. It reports that some wells have to go 500-600 feet deep to find water! One analysis estimates that 10% of all agricultural land in California will “go dry” in terms of their underground water supplies in the next 20 years. That would mean a major drop in agricultural production in California. It also cites state-wide and county actions in California to halt the building of new wells to preserve the remaining groundwater. Again, enlightened political leaders in all coastal states like California should be seeing that the inevitable water crisis is real and take the easily-available action of building water desalinization plants to create millions of gallons of new fresh water supplies so ground water doesn’t need to be tapped out. The fourth link was written in 2022 before 2023’s wet year with a big snow-pack in the mountains. However, keep in mind that one wet year will offer temporary help to topsoil water supplies, it will not do anything to replenish deep groundwater supplies. It would take many years of above-average snowfall to create enough of a water supply increase to percolate down to the ground water aquifers and begin replenishing them.
The fifth link and sixth link detail the extent of groundwater depletion problems in Texas. Drought there is forcing farmers to pump more water out of the aquifer to produce a stable level of crops, but that hastens the depletion of the Texas aquifer. Texas is also facing a serious shortage of water for both crops and domestic use. The sixth link has an impressive photo of how extensively one water spring has dried up. The links mention that the Ogallala Aquifer supplies Texas and seven other states with their groundwater for crops and domestic usages. South Dakota, where I live, is one of those states. I see lots of center-pivot watering systems operating in my state, all helping to drain the aquifer’s resources for short-term gains. If you are an American reader, the seventh link has a map of the USA’s aquifers if you would like to look at which one your region depends on.
The Bible warns that famines will be be one of the characteristics of the latter days (Matthew 24:7). Famines result from a major drop in food production due to a lack of water supplies for crops. Revelation 6:1-6 warn of food shortages in the latter days and foretell that foodstuffs will be rationed by price. The danger of draining the aquifers is not just an American problem. It is a serious global issue. A blog I first posted in 2019 includes information about coastal cities such as Jakarta, Indonesia and Bangkok,Thailand sinking downward due to groundwater subsidence (eighth link). if you wish to examine the persuasive evidence that we are living in the biblically-prophesied “latter days,” please read my free article, Are We Living in the Latter Days? I think anyone who reads that article will find the evidence persuasive.
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