Groundwater – Everything You Need to Know

Help prevent environmental collapse due to contaminated or depleted groundwater sources. Knowing where groundwater originates and how important it is to our planet will help you make more educated decisions about your water usage and waste.

Groundwater goes through a repetitive cycle gathered information about what groundwater is, its importance, and how you can help preserve and protect it.

What Is Groundwater?

Groundwater is the water present or trapped beneath Earth’s surface in rock and soil pore spaces and in the deep fractures of rock formations. About 30 percent of all readily available freshwater in the world is groundwater. A unit of rock or an unconsolidated deposit is called an aquifer when conditions permit it to yield a usable volume of water.

Note: The upper surface of the underground saturated zone is called the water table. Contrary to popular lore, groundwater does not form underground rivers.

How Is Groundwater Formed?

Groundwater forms when water from the surface (including rainwater) seeps into the ground. This process is known as recharge. The water is able to move underground through the rock and soil by way of connected pore spaces.

Is Groundwater Freshwater?

Ninety-eight percent of Earth’s available freshwater originates as groundwater. It is about sixty times as plentiful as the freshwater found in all lakes and streams. Water in the ground travels through pores in soil and rock, and in fractures and weathered areas of bedrock.

How Does Groundwater Get Polluted?

Groundwater can be contaminated by human activity

Groundwater contamination or pollution is nearly always the result of human activity. In higher population density areas and where human use of the land is intensive, groundwater is especially vulnerable.

Virtually any activity in which chemicals or wastes are released to the environment, intentionally or accidentally, has the potential to infiltrate and pollute groundwater. When groundwater becomes contaminated, it is challenging and expensive to clean up.

Note: Depending on its physical, chemical, and biological properties, a contaminant that has been released into the environment (in any volume) may move within an aquifer the same way groundwater moves.

What Is Saltwater Intrusion?

Groundwater pumping can reduce water pressure and freshwater flow toward coastal areas, causing saltwater to be drawn toward the freshwater zones of the aquifer. Saltwater intrusion decreases freshwater storage in the aquifers and can result in the abandonment of wells.

Note: The problem is that water desalination requires tremendous amounts of energy. Salt dissolves quite easily in water, forming strong chemical bonds, and those bonds are extremely challenging to break. The energy and technology to desalinate water are both expensive, and this means that desalinating water can be excessively costly.

Why Is Groundwater Important?

Groundwater provides fresh drinking water to the world population

Groundwater resources supply nearly half the world’s drinking water and support the farms that feed us. And that’s just the beginning; consider the following:

  • Groundwater supplies about 40% of all the drinking water in the United States
  • Groundwater cools the data centers that keep the Internet operational
  • It drives industries including energy, mining, and manufacturing
  • In more arid countries, an impressive 90% of groundwater use is for crop irrigation
  • Nearly 20% of all endangered species in the U.S. rely on groundwater for their survival

Note: Unlike the concern generated when major above-ground reservoirs reach critically low levels, many of our aquifers have been quietly overused for decades and are not being replenished at rates that can meet current demands.

How Can I Preserve Groundwater?

Contaminated groundwater is very difficult and expensive to clean up. Solutions can be found after groundwater has been contaminated, but this isn’t always easy. The best course of action (worldwide) is to adopt pollution prevention and conservation practices that protect vital groundwater supplies from being contaminated or depleted in the first place. Consider the following conservation/preservation suggestions:

  • Properly dispose of chemicals
  • Take used motor oil to a recycling center
  • Limit or reduce the amount of fertilizer used on plants
  • Fix pipe bursts and plumbing malfunctions immediately
  • Take short showers
  • Shut water off while brushing your teeth
  • Recycle water whenever possible
  • Run full loads of dishes and laundry
  • Check for leaky faucets and have them fixed
  • Abandon all unneeded wells
  • Exchange older appliances for newer “water-efficient” ones

Tip: For important home water efficiency tips, visit this Guide to Home Water Efficiency.

Groundwater Information

In this article, you discovered what groundwater is, why it is so essential to the ecosystem, what pollutes it, and how you can help protect it.

Knowing how to conserve and preserve groundwater will help every aspect of the world’s ecosystems thrive and continue benefitting from ample freshwater supplies.

Ignoring the need to preserve and protect groundwater will leave communities without sufficient potable water and contribute to the extinction of species dependent on clean groundwater for their survival.


What is Climate Change

Avoid being ignorant to the demise of the planet’s atmosphere due to the earth’s changing temperature. Knowing what climate change is and the drivers behind it will help you make better choices in how you affect your environment.

Climate change is being driven by several factors including co2 emissions gathered information about climate change, how it differs from global warming, its primary causes, and what can be done to slow it down.

Climate Change Definition

Climate change refers to any long-term shifts in temperatures and weather patterns. These shifts may be naturally occurring, like through variations in the solar cycle or tilting of Earth’s axis. But since the industrial revolution in the 1700s and 1800s, human activities have been the main driver of climate change, primarily from burning fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas.

“Natural” climate change is a change in Earth’s climate. This could be a change in Earth’s usual temperature. Or it could be a change in where rain and snow usually fall on Earth.
According to NASA, weather can change in just a few hours, while climate takes hundreds, thousands, or even millions of years to change.

Is Climate Change Global Warming

No. While the two terms are often used interchangeably, Global Warming refers to the rise in global temperatures principally due to the increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Climate Change refers to the increasing changes in the measures of global climate patterns over a long period. Such measurements include precipitation, temperature, and wind patterns.

More precisely, global warming is one of many aspects of climate change.

What is Driving Climate Change

While there are multiple contributors to climate change, the main driver is the greenhouse effect. Some natural and manmade gases in the Earth’s atmosphere act like the glass windows in a greenhouse, trapping the sun’s heat and preventing it from radiating back into space, causing global warming.

Climate change is being driven by several factors including livestock farming

Undeniably, Human activity is another of the leading causes of climate change. Consider the following:

  • People burn fossil fuels
  • People convert land from forests to agriculture
  • Farming livestock

Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, populations have burned increasingly higher quantities of fossil fuels and modified exceedingly significant quantities of land from fertile forests to overworked farmland.

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the following gas emitted by human activities are principal contributing factors to greenhouse gasses:

Carbon dioxide (CO2) – Fossil fuel consumption is the primary source of CO2. CO2 can also be emitted from direct human-induced impacts on forestry and other land use like deforestation, land clearing, and degradation of soils.

Methane (CH4) – Agricultural activities, waste management, energy consumption, and biomass burning all contribute to CH4 emissions.

Nitrous oxide (N2O) – Agricultural activities, like fertilizer use, are the primary source of N2O emissions. Fossil fuel combustion also produces N2O.

Fluorinated gases (F-gases) – Industrial processes, refrigeration, and consumer product usage contribute to F-gas emissions.

Ironically, the same land damaged by deforestation and land clearing can also remove CO2 from the atmosphere through reforestation, improvement of soil composition, and other proactive measures.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions by Country

According to the EPA, in 2014, the top carbon dioxide (CO2) emitters were:

  • China – 30%
  • The United States – 15%
  • The European Union – 9%
  • India – 7%
  • The Russian Federation – 5%
  • Japan – 4%

This information includes CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion, cement manufacturing, and gas flaring. Together, these sources represent a significant proportion of total global CO2 emissions.

What Can I Do to Slow Climate Change?

While the challenges of controlling climate change are principally seen as a “big business” problem, the reality is that everyone from all cultures and walks of life is in some way inherently charged with helping the global community slow climate change. Here are some ways to reduce your impact:

Use Public Transportation – Transportation accounts for nearly 30% of global greenhouse emissions, and that percentage is increasing every year. We can each rethink our approach to transportation and start using alternatives like public transportation, carpooling, or even riding a bike.

Avoid Plastic – every plastic item is produced from fossil fuels, and in every phase of its “life,” it emits greenhouse gases. 

Change Lightbulbs – Using LEDs and CFLs could help prevent billions of tons of carbon from being added to the world’s atmosphere.

Go Paperless – Converting to paperless saves trees and helps the environment.

Turn Off Your Water – Only 1% of the world’s freshwater is accessible. Do your part to conserve water by using less.

Go Zero Waste – Use the 5 Rs of zero waste. Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Rot, and Recycle

Support Local Farming – Eating locally grown food reduces the carbon footprint left by shipping food.

No one alone can change the world’s climate, but all of us together can slow the contributors to climate change.

Climate Change Defined

In this article, you discovered the definition and essential information about climate change, how it is different from global warming, and what is driving it.

Understanding what causes climate change will help you make more informed decisions about consumption and refuge habits while helping others clear up misconceptions and misunderstandings.

By ignoring climate change, you join the portion of the world’s population that’s barreling towards (and dragging everyone else into) an era of unconscionable natural disasters and severe weather catastrophes.