Pakistan underground water supplies over-exploited: expert

By AFP
Published: August 10, 2012

YARDSTICK: 54 times of the aquifer is the groundwater footprint in Upper Ganges in India and Pakistan.

PARIS: The heavily-populated regions of Asia, the arid Middle East and parts of the Unites States corn belt are dangerously over-exploiting their underground water supplies, according to a study published on Wednesday in the Nature journal. “The countries that are overusing groundwater most significantly are Pakistan, US, India, China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Mexico, and the highest number of people that are impacted by this live in India and China,” Canadian hydrologist Tom Gleeson told AFP. “Over a quarter of the world’s population live in these regions where groundwater is being overused,” he said in a phone interview.

Many places are rapidly pumping out “fossil” water, or water that was laid down sometimes thousands of years ago and cannot be replaced on a human timescale. Seeking a yardstick of sustainability, the study creates a measure called the groundwater footprint. It calculates the area of land sustained by extracted water and compares this to the size of the aquifer beneath. The global groundwater footprint is a whopping 3.5 times the size of the world’s aquifers, the study found. However, this stress is accounted for by a small number of countries. For instance, in the South Caspian region of northern Iran, the footprint is 98 times the size of the aquifer; in the Upper Ganges in India and Pakistan, it is 54; while in the US high plains, the figure is nine.

In March, the UN warned in its fourth World Water Report that water problems in many parts of the world were chronic, and without a crackdown on wastage, the situation would worsen as demand for food rises and climate change intensifies.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 10th, 2012.

Reader Comments (1)

  • yousaf
    Aug 12, 2012 - 4:20PM

    @UN warned through WWR in March that underground water was being wasted because of its extensive and careless ways of usage.UN further said that due to such wasteful ways of water usage the situation would worsen as demand for food is rising and climate change is intensifying unfavourably for growing food crops.In its report UN has mentioned several countries that are over-using their underground water reservoirs.This report was first published in ‘Nature journal on 8th and in ET on 10th, August.I on my part am not interested about other countries as they will solve the problem themselves.What frustrates and disappoint me is the fact that no Hydrologist or Geologist from Pakistan has bothered to write about the subject so that average pakistani could understand where we stand so far as future water availability for agriculture and other uses is concerned.The reason for my concern is due to the fact that Pakistan entirely depends on agriculture.Our Industry too is based on agriculture and there can be no agricultural production without WATER.If we do not possess any knowledge about our strata,which only geologists can tell how can any future planning be made about agriculture?(If someone talks of industry other than that based on agriculture in Pakistan,HE can have a debate with me).THE SILENCE ON THE PART OF PAK HYDROLOGISTS and GEOLOGISTS is DEAFENINGRecommend

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