New Estimate Finds Less Fresh Groundwater in U.S. Than Previously Assumed

Photo: Well drillers for Hydro Resources drill a well near Sublette, Kansas. Photo © Brian Lehmann / Circle of Blue By Brett Walton, Circle of Blue

Drilling deeper not a long-term strategy, authors say.

When a severe drought enveloped California a few years ago and rivers shriveled, farmers in the Central Valley punched wells deeper underground, seeking to tap water reserves that were untouched by aridity on the surface.

In Arizona today, as officials finalize a multi-state plan to keep more water in a shrinking Lake Mead, some farmers in Pinal County will transition from imported Colorado River water to local groundwater.

For Grant Ferguson, a water researcher at the University of Saskatchewan, these responses to scarce precipitation require a measure of caution and long-term water supply planning.

“The short-term solution seems to be that we can drill our way out by drilling deeper,” Ferguson told Circle of Blue. “But there is a limit.”

Ferguson and colleagues from the University of Arizona and the University of California, Santa Barbara set out to better define what that limit is.

Their study, published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, looked at the depth at which fresh groundwater encounters saltier reserves that […]

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Summary
New Estimate Finds Less Fresh Groundwater in U.S. Than Previously Assumed
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New Estimate Finds Less Fresh Groundwater in U.S. Than Previously Assumed
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For Grant Ferguson, water researcher at Univ. of Saskatchewan, drilling deeper in response to scarce precipitation requires caution and long-term water supply planning.
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Circle of Blue
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