This article will take a look at this highly profitable but unethical industry that has duped literally billions of people into believing that bottled water is better for you and worth paying top dollar for. Of course, sometimes bottled water is necessary where clean tap water is unavailable. We’re exempting those folks, since they don’t have a choice in the water they drink. We’ll also do a global survey of the state of the world’s aquifers, to show just how much of a risk water boards are taking in allowing multinational companies to deplete billions of gallons/ liters of a scarce fresh water resource. We are truly being bamboozled.
A University of Victoria study found that just 6% of global groundwater is being replenished within 50 years.
According to the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), we could be looking at a 40% shortfall in the availability of water within just 12 years - that includes the 600 aquifers that cross borders; at current usages, there are sure to be more fights over water in future.
It gets worse. As aquifers are depleting, demand for water is growing. It’s expected to increase 55% by 2050 - mostly due to the need for more food production. Demand increases during droughts, when surface water gets dried up first. California for example, in a drought since 2011, currently taps aquifers for 60% of its water, 20% more than normal.
So how are the world’s aquifers doing, region by region? NASA attempted to answer this question using satellite data. It found that of the major gravel and sand-filled aquifers, 21 out of 37 (56%) are receding. A third were described as “highly stressed,” “extremely stressed” or “overstressed”. SIWI states that nearly half of the world’s aquifers may be past their tipping point, meaning a natural recovery has become impossible.
The water table is dropping all over the world.
It doesn’t take a hydrologist to figure out that the world must stop bottled water companies from drawing down already-stressed aquifers, or even pumping from areas that aren’t water-stressed. When multinationals like Nestle and Coca-Cola are allowed to sink wells into aquifers for nothing or next to nothing, there’s something seriously wrong.
The problem stems from governments and their representatives being unaware of the fragility of our global groundwater. They don’t know, or don’t care, that we have a crisis of fresh water. Less than 1% of the Earth’s water is groundwater.
Our current rates of depletion are unsustainable. But if we did one thing to slow the depletion of groundwater, it might buy us a few more years: ban bottled water companies from extracting it.
It doesn’t matter whether the company is pumping it from bone-dry California or rain-soaked BC, eventually we are going to need this groundwater when the Earth warms to the point where all the glaciers melt and once-mighty rivers are reduced to trickles. Instead we’re giving it away. What are we doing?
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