Thursday, February 23, 2012

Coastal drinking water more vulnerable to water use than climate change

Terra Daily via SPX: Human activity is likely a greater threat to coastal groundwater used for drinking water supplies than rising sea levels from climate change, according to a study conducted by geoscientists from the University of Saskatchewan and McGill University in Montreal.

Grant Ferguson from the U of S Department of Civil and Geological Engineering worked with Tom Gleeson from McGill's Department of Civil Engineering to examine data from more than 1,400 coastal watersheds.

What they found was that with the exception of very flat coastal areas that can be inundated with sea water - rare in North America - most coastal aquifers are relatively unaffected by rising sea level. What does appear to affect these aquifers is humans pumping water from wells for drinking, domestic use and irrigation.

"The bulk of the research in recent years has focused on climate change effects on coastal groundwater but increases in water demand could be more important," Ferguson says. "This is particularly true in growing coastal cities and towns where groundwater is often an important water supply."...

Saltwater intrusion diagram by Sweetian, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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