Global use of irreplaceable groundwater is exhausting the supply so fast that researchers say it will drive up food prices and hit international trade.
China, the world’s most populous country, doubled within just 10 years its use of irreplaceable groundwater from underground reservoirs that are replenished more slowly than they are drained.
And in the same decade, 2000 to 2010, global use of this non-renewable water resource for irrigation increased by a quarter, according to a new study published in Nature journal.
The research suggests that unless producers and consumers of food make changes, this trend could lead to depleted water reserves, limited availability of food imports, and higher food prices.
Groundwater – from underground supplies, as opposed to water in rivers or lakes – supplies global agriculture with 43% of its crop irrigation needs.
The country exporting the most crops produced using irreplaceable groundwater is Pakistan, with 29% of global non-renewable sources embedded in trade – closely followed by the US (27%), with India (12%) in third place.
Read more at Vital Groundwater Depleted Faster than Ever