The short-term solution to drought seems to be drilling our way out of it by drilling deeper groundwater wells. This seems to hold true for both agricultural and residential water use. A new study out of the University of Arizona and the University of California, Santa Barbara has shown that drilling deeper might not be the solution we all hoped for.
In their study, published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, Grant Ferguson and his colleagues studied depth to saline water in fresh groundwater wells. Their analysis demonstrated that “fresh groundwater, in eastern states as well as those west of the Mississippi, is shallower than previously thought and thus less abundant,” and “there is less fresh groundwater globally than was thought because of salinity.”
The study (one of several) shows that groundwater supplies “are more vulnerable to pollution and depletion.” Their conclusions are alarming in the face of current and future impacts to water resources driven by climate change, overuse and contamination.