Mismanagement of groundwater threatens our drinking water, food production, and climate change adaptation prospects, warns a statement endorsed by the International Water Management Institute’s (IWMI) and signed by 700+ global experts.
The call to action highlighted in Nature this week cites recent scientific breakthroughs on groundwater’s vital role in supporting rivers globally. It supplies more than 40 percent of the water used for the world’s agricultural irrigation, drinking water to two billion people, and helps regions cope with worsening droughts. Millions of low income smallholder farmers, in particular, rely on groundwater in arid and semi-arid areas and during times of drought, making it one of nature’s best solutions to beat climate variability.
Groundwater makes up 99 percent of the Earth’s liquid freshwater. But in many places, warn the experts, groundwater is under threat from overexploitation and contamination, mostly due to poor understanding, land use planning, and management.