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Big drain on groundwater

Overuse of freshwater supplies poses risks

8:59pm, December 13, 2012

2012 SCIENCE NEWS TOP 25: 24

Everyone needs fresh water, but sometimes need trumps wise use. Humankind’s thirst is draining many aquifers faster than they can be replenished, with some disastrous effects. A new global map of nations’ varying “groundwater footprints” showed the world’s water supplies being sucked up, much of them used to water crops (SN: 9/8/12, p. 10). By the study’s measure, India, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are among the thirstiest countries.

The possibility of running out of water isn’t the only threat. Pumping groundwater, whether for irrigation or drinking, turns out to contribute more to global sea level rise than scientists had thought (

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