Groundwater and Subsidence

About 22% of the fresh water on earth is stored below the surface – groundwater. It is pretty easy to pump water out, but it takes a long time to refresh the water in many cases. Also, we compound the problem of recharge because we replace natural insoak areas with impermeable structures like roads and roofs. If that weren’t bad enough, we take the water displaced by these structures and divert it across the land as quick as possible (again preventing insoak) through raised home lots, drainage ditches, and storm drains. If I live to be 70 years old, I predict I’ll die of a young person murdering me out of sheer hate of the stupid things we did to make their life hell.

Now I learned about Subsidence. This is the sinking of land as the result of pumping out too much of the groundwater. It turns out the water is available because of the space between rock particles. Well, in many situations, after you remove the water, there is just empty space left, so the rock compresses, the land shrinks– forever. You will never have water in that place where the water was at—ever. In the Houston area, the land surface has gone down 9 feet. In the San Joaquin Valley it is something like 30 feet. I wonder what the punishment for robbing future generations of clean water should be? Murder seems fair to me.

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