Scientists warn Americans could run out of groundwater by 2050 – ‘causing food prices to


America is in the midst of a water crisis as scientists have discovered a majority of the nation’s groundwater supply could be depleted by 2050.

Researchers at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory created scenarios simulated scenarios of groundwater extraction over the 21st century, finding eight basins have an up to 98 percent chance of emptying in the next 25 years.

That would be due to taking withdrawals for drinking, irrigation and and other uses faster than what rainfall and snowpack can put in.

The at-risk systems, including the Missouri River and Lower Mississippi River, provide water to more than 129 million Americans living in California, Texas, Montana and many midwestern states.  

Lead author of the study, Hassan Niazi, told DailyMail.com: ‘With water supplies becoming increasingly limited, climbing water costs can cascade across sectors, causing food prices to rise.’

Researchers at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory created scenarios simulated scenarios of groundwater extraction over the 21st century, finding eight basins have an up to 98 percent chance of emptying in the next 25 years

Researchers at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory created scenarios simulated scenarios of groundwater extraction over the 21st century, finding eight basins have an up to 98 percent chance of emptying in the next 25 years

The US reserves currently have at least 33,000 trillion gallons of groundwater, which is water found underground in the cracks and spaces in soil, sand and rock, but the nation is pumping out about 80 billion gallons per day.

The Geological Survey said that taking the excessive amount is compared to money kept in a bank account – ‘if you withdraw money at a faster rate than you deposit new money you will eventually start having account-supply problems.’

With plummeting groundwater levels, streams would disappear and the earth could sink and collapse – damaging roads, buildings and other structures above the ground.

‘Many prior studies have shown that as groundwater demand increases, aquatic ecosystems could face greater stress, water contamination could spread, and the land above diminished aquifers could sink into the earth more often—a phenomenon known as land subsidence,’ said Niazi.

‘The authors add that competing interests for water stem from many sectors: energy, manufacturing, agriculture, livestock, etc. 

‘Each of these can face unforeseen stress due to increasing demand for water within a region, driving a resultant rise in groundwater extraction.’

The California River was  found to be nearing depletion with a 98 percent chance - the highest probability out of any of the basins

The California River was  found to be nearing depletion with a 98 percent chance – the highest probability out of any of the basins

The team found that about 105 million people currently live in the water basins that are likely to undergo peaking before 2050, and additional 24 million people live in the basins that undergo peaking until 2100.

‘Our scenarios of the future are exploratory, meaning they are ‘what-if’ evaluations, and not necessarily ‘predicting’ the future,’ Niazi said.

‘I like to interpret the outcomes through the plausibility lens, instead of likelihood or probability lens, but we can infer the plausibility of the peaking outcome based on the agreement across scenarios.’ 

In the early 20th century, officials began constructing dams throughout the US to bring water to more farms and Americans. 

‘However, the past 50 years have seen a shift towards the usage of non-renewable groundwater, vast stores of which (98 percent of Earth’s fresh liquid water) have accumulated over long periods of time below the Earth’s surface,’ reads the study published in Nature

The at-risk systems , including the Missouri River (pictured) and Lower Mississippi River, provide water to more than 129 million Americans living in California , Texas , Montana and many midwestern states

The at-risk systems , including the Missouri River (pictured) and Lower Mississippi River, provide water to more than 129 million Americans living in California , Texas , Montana and many midwestern states

The team found that the Texas Gulf Coast, home to 22 million people, has an 87. 3 percent chance of depletion based on the simulations.

‘Texas is losing groundwater at nearly twice the maximum sustained rate — and according to plans already pending with local management agencies, that rate is likely to increase in coming years unless officials change course,’ stated researchers at Texas State University and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF).

Some Texans are already seeing the depletion and feeling the impact.

Dr. Robert Mace with EDF said in a statement: ‘In the Hill Country, water-levels are declining, wells are running dry, and springs are vanishing. 

‘That’s a sign of things to come across the state.’

The Missouri River, which provides water to 12.3 million people, has a 94 percent chance of draining, while the Arkansas White Red region – responsible for 11 million Americans – has a 93.6 percent risk.

The California River was also found to be nearing depletion with a 98 percent chance.

This system provides groundwater to more than 46 million people, which has forced over drafting from the underground basins for years – nearly two-thirds of California’s more than 20,000 monitoring wells are below normal level.

Niazi and his team also noted the Mexico-Northwest Coast, responsible for six million people, has a 96 percent chance of emptying and the Lower Mississippi that feeds 14 million has an 84.7 percent likelihood.

And finally, the Rio Grande River was predicted to have an 84.7 chance and the Lower Colorado River 63.1 percent probability of drying up.

‘Competing interests for water stem from many sectors: energy, manufacturing, agriculture, livestock, etc,’ said Niazi.

‘Each of these can face unforeseen stress due to increasing demand for water within a region, driving a resultant rise in groundwater extraction.’



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