How many times a day do you reach for that thirst-quenching cup, bottle, or fountain? Often we seek out the life-sustaining natural resource of water without much thought. We take it for granted. And we may think of water as an entitlement, a right bestowed upon our birth on this planet. But we consume water without worries only until a crisis threatens the availability of water or its safety.
Maybe that’s why we hear so much about water, the most commonplace of liquids, in the news. In some places, there seems to be far too much of it due to record rainfalls. In other areas, residents are plagued by wildfires and extreme droughts. Coastal regions are inundated by undrinkable seawater, which threatens the local freshwater aquifer. And we all know the sad story of Flint, Michigan, which recently has dominated headlines, as residents’ health is placed at risk by serious contamination issues.
As global climate continues to change, some local areas might face new weather patterns and new water conditions for which they are not fully prepared, in part because decisionmakers are not yet aware of pending crises. That’s where geoscientists come in.
Consider, for instance, the case of Cape Town, South Africa, which BBC News reported on earlier this year. The article highlighted the dozen cities deemed most likely to run out of drinking water, and Cape Town topped the list. Equipped with this knowledge, however, geoscientists and others already have begun addressing early effects in Cape Town through practical measures, including conservation and irrigation.
During Groundwater Week (December 3-6, 2018), let’s all take a moment to appreciate how important water is to us. After all, the adult human body is up to 60 percent water. The next drink of water you take, give a little thanks to your groundwater scientists for bringing clean water to your home.
Allyson Anderson Book
Executive Director, AGI
Resources from AGI
Water: Elementary Education
Water: Geoscience Workforce
Water: Geoscience Policy
Water: AGI Member and Associate Societies
American Institute of Hydrology
American Meteorological Society
Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography
International Association of Hydrogeologists/U.S. National Chapter
Karst Waters Institute
National Cave and Karst Research Institute
National Ground Water Association
United States Permafrost Association
Western Water Assessment