Today’s Drought is Making a Bigger Problem for Tomorrow

Think scarce water supplies are a problem now? Things could get a lot worse.

National Geographic takes a look at how groundwater supplies are being tapped at an alarming rate. The problem is that some of the aquifers that supply groundwater don't get replenished – meaning once that water is gone, it's gone for good.

Groundwater is not only being used for agriculture and culinary purposes, it's going toward energy production as well.

As drought worsens groundwater depletion, water supplies for people and farming shrink, and this scarcity can set the table for social unrest.Saudi Arabia, which a few decades ago began pumping deep underground aquifers to grow wheat in the desert, has since abandoned the plan, in order to conserve what groundwater supplies remain, relying instead on imported wheat to feed the people of this arid land.

Managing and conserving groundwater supplies becomes an urgent challenge as drought depletes our surface supplies. Because groundwater is a common resource—available to anyone with well—drilling equipment-cooperation and collaboration will be crucial as we try to protect this shrinking line of defense against a future of water scarcity.