Using Groundwater

Water towers are also used to store water for use during dry times. Humans need a lot of water. The water isn't to drink or even use in our toilets but to grow our crops. If you live in California, you hear about droughts and rationing water. It's funny that they ask the cities to ration water when the farmers use almost three-quarters of the water. Is it good to use so much water? Problems can happen when civilization needs large amounts of water.

Feeling Depressed

Let's say you put a pump into the ground and start getting water out. In the place you are taking water out of you create a cone of depression. That cone is a dip in the water table. Eventually you need to drill deeper to get the same amount of water. If many farmers are building pumps, they can over pump a small area of groundwater. Imagine a pie from which you suck out all the filling and leave the crust. That sucking is similar to over pumping. When you suck out the insides, the whole aquifer becomes weak and can collapse. It could be even worse than collapse. If you are close to the ocean, the water you remove can be replaced by seawater (which you cannot drink). You would have to wait for many years for the aquifer return to normal.

Old and rusty equipment can also cause contamination of groundwater.


Don't forget about pollution seeping into our groundwater. Buried waste and landfills all let hazardous material seep into the groundwater. It's not intentional. It happens naturally when water drains through the waste and seeps into the land. Behind many homes are large containers called septic tanks. You can find other types of storage tanks at gas stations. Those can all leak into the groundwater and make it impossible to drink. As we said before, eventually the groundwater will return to normal, but it may take several decades.

Emptying The Aquifers

We've been talking about humans taking water out of the aquifers of clean freshwater. You need to remember that water is constantly flowing into the large sources of freshwater. The aquifers do replenish themselves over time. There is a magic point of equilibrium for a healthy aquifer where the amount of water coming into the system would equal the amount of water we are removing. In small, lower population communities, that equilibrium is possible. In areas of high farming, like California and Texas, we are starting to have problems from a combination of over pumping and contamination.

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