Excessive irrigation and the unrelenting thirst of tens of millions of people are causing groundwater levels in northern India to drop dramatically, a problem that could lead to severe water shortages in a country of more than 1 billion people.
A study last week by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, indicated that groundwater across a swath of India dropped at a rate of 1.6 inches a year between August 2002 and October 2008. That decrease in groundwater is more than double the capacity of India’s largest reservoir.
The study noted that the drop in groundwater came in years where there was no shortage of rainfall to cause a natural decline.
The federal Department of Interior next month plans hearings to discuss plans to save the acramento-San Joaquin Delta, the freshwater estuary that supplies drinking water to two-thirds of Californians.
“California’s delta is as important a national resource as the Everglades, or the Great Lakes, or the Chesapeake Bay,” Interior deputy secretary David Hayes said last week. “Not only is it a crucial ecosystem that is in peril, but more than 20 million Americans in the most populated state in the nation rely on it for their drinking water. The status quo is not sustainable.”