The purpose of this lab is to discover if human development is impacting the sustainability of the Earth’s natural supply of groundwater. Human development has depleted and diminished natural resources in the past and there is reason to believe that this development will impede the replenishment of Earth’s groundwater supplies.
Groundwater systems are masses of water beneath the Earth’s surface. Many countries are heavily dependent on these systems for a regular water supply. Through pumping and irrigation, humans have taken advantage of this natural resource. In the United States, 51% of the population is dependent on groundwater for a drinking supply, and groundwater is also utilized for farming and industrial processes (The Basics, n.d.). It’s a vital resource to modern civilization, but the excessive pumping could possibly be diminishing this resource. For example, in groundwater aquifers in 1950’s Long Island, New York, a sewer system was installed to keep contaminants out of the water supply. However, the removal of wastewater drew from the supply and prevented the aquifers from replenishing to their full capacity, lowering their water levels and the base flows of surrounding streams (Development, n.d.). The loss of groundwater and base flow can lead to harmful consequences such as vegetation loss, habitat degradation, accelerated erosion, salt-water intrusion, drying up of wells, and overall climate damage (Ponce, 2006). For years, it has been debated amongst populations whether or not pumping should be changed, minimized, or replaced in order to slow these damages. This experiment involves researching the practice of pumping groundwater and finding examples of how human development has affected the sustainability of groundwater aquifers.
The hypothesis for this lab is the following: Based on the research of past examples, the increasing practice of pumping water from aquifers for the ever-growing human development and population growth will eventually render groundwater systems unsustainable and massive civilizations will no longer have the vital resource at their disposal.
- Ground-Water Development, Sustainability, and Water Budgets. (n.d.). Retrieved April 23, 2016, from http://pubs.usgs.gov/circ/circ1186/html/gw_dev.html
- Ponce, V. M. (2006, March). Groundwater Utilization, and Sustainability. Retrieved April 23, 2016, from http://groundwater.sdsu.edu/
- The Basics. (n.d.). Retrieved April 23, 2016, from http://www.groundwater.org/get-informed/basics/groundwater.html