Groundwater Use & Availability


Groundwater is a renewable, yet finite, resource—and it is usually taken for granted. It is generally pumped from the subsurface in the absence of a sound understanding of how much remains available for sustainable use. Over withdrawal of groundwater supplies can lead to dried-up wells and springs, shrinking wetlands, reduced stream flows and lake levels, saltwater intrusion in coastal areas, and land subsidence. These impacts have serious economic ramifications, which are only worsened when coupled with drought conditions. Unless we employ more effective ways to manage the way we use groundwater, current practices of withdrawing groundwater at unsustainable rates will ultimately have significant social, economic, and ecological costs.

Our land-use decisions and water-use policies must consider the interrelationship between groundwater and surface water supplies and the capacity of individual watersheds to sustain existing, as well as future, water uses. To ensure the long-term availability of water and aquifer yields, we as a nation must use water more efficiently and better tailor our land- and water-use planning to effectively bridge the gap between water law and science.


Potable fresh water is fast becoming a highly sought-after commodity—it is being called “blue gold.” Yet the fact that all the water we have right now is all the water we will ever have is not reflected in our demand for and use of water. As a nation, we can no longer put off the job of answering the essential and definitive questions of supply and demand: Will we have enough water, and what will it cost?

From the Ground Water Report to the Nation

Groundwater Use and Availability – Summary Sheet : Full Chapter

Additional Reading