Background: Fresh water is an increasingly scarce resource in an increasingly populous and water-intensive world. Maintaining an adequate supply of fresh water both nationally and globally will be one of the largest challenges of the 21st century. Desalination of salty water – from both the ocean and the ground – represents a huge potential source of fresh water. The development of this resource requires a combination of geoscience, engineering, waste management, policy, and community outreach and participation.
Our speakers are:
Tzahi Cath, Ph.D., Ben L. Fryrear Professor, Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, Colorado School of Mines | SlidesVideo
Katherine R. Zodrow, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Environmental Engineering, Montana Tech of the University of Montana; Non-Resident Scholar, Center for Energy Studies, James A. Baker III Institute, Rice University | SlidesVideo
Roughly 60 percent of global groundwater use is for irrigation; most of the rest is used in households and industry.1 Groundwater uses vary significantly by country, and partly depend on climate. In some countries with abundant rainfall, such as Indonesia and Thailand, irrigation needs are very low, so household water supply is the main use for groundwater.
Groundwater use is highest in parts of the country with limited rainfall but high water needs, especially for irrigation. Most of these areas are in the western half of the country, where annual rainfall is typically much lower than in the East and where surface water supplies cannot meet the demand for water.
In 2015, groundwater provided 29% of the total freshwater used in the United States. However, eight states and at least one territory depended on groundwater for at least 50% of their freshwater supply:1
The Nebraska Department of Natural Resources provides an interactive map of water wells in the state. Wells are color-coded by use, and include geothermal, injection, irrigation, domestic, monitoring, and commerical wells, plus many other types. Users can click on each well to access registration and ownership information.
Additional map layers include transportation, aerial photography, and lakes and rivers.
Click here to access the Nebraska DNR's map of water wells.
The Connecticut Geological Survey's (CGS) map of surficial aquifer potential shows the areas with high potential for groundwater supply based on the thickness of coarse-grained deposits. Colors on the map indicate the thickness of coarse-grained deposits and the thickness of fine-grained deposits where they occur over coarse-grained sediments.
Click here to access the CGS's map of surficial aquifer potential in Connecticut.