Groundwater Utilization and Sustainability – Lab Report

Purpose

            The purpose of this lab is to observe the levels of groundwater and find out the sustainability of the groundwater if human development does not change.

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Introduction

            Human beings need water to survive and since the amount of precipitation has continued to decline due to climate and environment change, the source of water continues to dwindle. Over 70 % of the Earth’s surface is covered by water. However, only 25 % of this make up freshwater which is stored as underground water, while less than 1 % is stored by other sources such as soil moisture, rivers, ponds and lakes (William, et al., 1999).

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This makes the most accessible water for human use. The remaining 74 % of the fresh water is stored in form of ice and glaciers in the polar region as well as peak of the mountains. As a result, extraction of groundwater for drinking and irrigation continues to increase daily (Mitra, 2015). Studies have indicated that 40 % of the world food is produced through irrigation, thus putting more pressure on ground water. Further analysis indicated that in the next 50 years, the world population would have reached 10 million people, thus straining water resources further.

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Hypothesis

            If current human development does not change, the sustainability of the groundwater will be affected by anthropogenic activities such as oil exploration and extraction in deep sea, urban and industrial development, clearing of land for agricultural purposes as well as poor waste management practices.

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Methods

            The lab was set up to show the different and progression throughout the three centuries, the 1800s, 1900s and 2000s. The impact to forest, groundwater levels, saltwater intrusion, farming, industrial development and population was observed in the three centuries.  Groundwater levels were observed and monitored throughout the time progression in relation to human development.

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Results

            In the 1800s, there was large forests, lots of underground water, no salt water intrusion to the groundwater, small farms, not cities as well as limited housing. In the 1900s, the forest and underground water decreased by 50 %. There was an intrusion of salt water into the ground water, the farm were larger but fewer. Also, there was substantial increase in industrial development, increase in housing and substantial growth of cities. In the 2000s, there was 90 % decrease in forest and groundwater. The intrusion of salt into the groundwater also increases substantially. The number of farms remained constant but become more fragmented, industrial development and housing decreased by 10 – 15 %.

Discussion

            Results expected from the hypothesis were obtained. In the 1800s, water was plentiful, but decreased by 50 % in the 1900s due to changes in forest cover, industrial development and housing as well as the intrusion of salt water into the groundwater. The situation worsen in the 2000s due to continued pressure from the increasing population and demand for food and housing.

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