LA CANON FLINTRIDGE, CA – You wouldn’t know it from Tropical Storm Bill or the rains and floods of recent weeks, but Texas and other parts of the world may be running out of water.
That’s what two GRACE satellites from NASA seem to have discovered as they continuously track rain and water on the planet.
NASA says data from the satellites show 21 of the planet’s 37 largest aquifers are drying up. Those are freshwater sources for hundreds of millions of humans.
And that includes the Atlantic and Gulf Coastal Plains Aquifer serving Texas and all of the Gulf Coast.
So, what is an aquifer?
Think of aquifers as underground storage for water. They’re not underground lakes or streams.
The water in the aquifers took tens of thousands years to filter from rain, rivers, and streams on the surface.
But humans are using water in some places faster than mother nature can keep up, such as poor and densely populated places with limited alternative water sources, and highly populated areas like California and Texas that use water for farming, drinking, watering lawns, washing cars, swimming , etc.
Although the researchers have the satellite data, they admit in their published studies that they have no way of knowing when some of these aquifers will dry up.
For instance, the Northwest Sahara Aquifer could turn to sand in the next ten years, or in the next 21 thousand years.
But, what they do know is that unless we come up with some workable water policies, we could get really thirsty really soon.