How Much Water Debt Are We Taking On? This Scary Map Shows How Much

We are currently using 3.5 times the water resources supplied by aquifers, according to new research on our global “groundwater footprint” just published in the Journal Nature.

According to the researchers, nearly 1.7 billion people live in areas where groundwater is under threat. Interestingly, it’s only a handful of aquifers contributing to the problem.

“80 per cent of aquifers have a groundwater footprint that is less than their area, meaning that the net global value is driven by a few heavily overexploited aquifers,” write the researchers.

The scary map below illustrates just how depleted those few overexploited groundwater resources are:


5 Responses to How Much Water Debt Are We Taking On? This Scary Map Shows How Much

  1. M Tucker says:

    We have been on the “scary” road to disaster for quite some time now. Russia looks to be in decent shape so the potential is there to continue to grow wheat in times of multi-year drought. Africa too looks good but African nations have serious economic, security, corruption, infrastructure, and environmental problems. The soil in most of Africa is severely degraded and eroded so it does not make for high yield farming. However, if the world is willing to convert grassland into cropland, ignore habitat loss and extinction, and willing to invest in soil reclamation, then some African nations might be able to make significant contributions to the world food supply when the Great Plains Aquifer runs dry and dustbowlification strangles the US breadbasket.

  2. Zimzone says:

    The Ogallala Aquifer may not have a chance to be depleted if it’s full of Keystone XL pipeline tar sands oil.

  3. fj says:

    Eco-debt is a very important concept.

    Monetary debt is vapid in comparison; as are folks preaching austerity in the face of rapidly advancing environmental devastation; an emergency situation we must fix at wartime speed.

    Ultimately, we are clueless as to how to produce the stuff that supports life on earth as it’s rapidly disappearing before our eyes.

  4. Very interesting.

    Along the way, let’s think about how to rephrase, since it really isn’t “aquifers contributing to the problem” at all. It’s human overexploitation of the aquifers that’s the problem, of course.

  5. Robert says:

    I’m not sure I understand (in fact, I’m sure I don’t understand) the meaning of “We estimate that the size of the global groundwater footprint is currently about 3.5 times the actual area of aquifers…” (from the abstract of the paper).