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🔬 "Hidden Truths About Drought And Drinking Water"

Water Nerds

Photo by engin akyurt / Unsplash

Hosts: Analies Ross-Dyjak | Head of Policy & Perspectives | Hydroviv
& Emily Driehaus | Science Communication Intern | Hydroviv
Category: 🔬 Research

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[2:38] ED: “We don't always see [many drought] consequences right away. […] Most of the time when a drought occurs, we're so focused on the immediate, […] [for example that] surface water levels decrease. But a lot of these secondary impacts impact groundwater. And so the things that I highlighted were sea water intrusion, which happens a lot in coastal areas, land subsidence, which is also known as […] land sinking […] and then both of these and other factors contribute to drinking water infrastructure damage.

[4:05] ED: “Sea water intrusion happens […] in coastal areas. You have groundwater and you have ocean water, or salt water. When those two meet, there's this area called a zone of transition […]. And that zone of transition is what prevents salt water and salinated water from infiltrating groundwater and making the groundwater undrinkable and incredibly salty. But in a drought, when that groundwater level is depleted, and it's not being replenished, those groundwater aquifers aren't being recharged, then there isn't enough groundwater to prevent that sea water from coming up into those groundwater aquifers. So that zone of transition keeps getting higher and higher and higher. […] So those groundwater wells start pumping up salinated water that […] you can't drink […] and it's not great for crops.”

[5:41] ED: ”You see [saltwater intrusion] a lot in California, especially right now with this prolonged drought. And then, continued pumping of that groundwater when it's not being recharged also contributes to this. California actually just mandated that groundwater pumps have to have water meters installed now, so that they can measure how much groundwater people and farmers […] pumping out so that they can have better groundwater management practices.”

[6:12] AR: “It's interesting, because in places like California, where the surface water is so limited, […] they're turning to groundwater. But now with this sea water intrusion coming into play, […] what's the next source? […] It's like a secondary impact that creates water scarcity, essentially.”

[7:56] ED: “Lack of rainfall contributes to lack of groundwater. Those groundwater aquifers aren’t being recharged. So all that water takes up volume underneath the surface and when that volume is being depleted, and isn't being replenished, that's when soil starts to compact. And that leads to the ground sinking, because there's just not that volume underneath the surface to hold it up anymore. So that's when you get that sinking of the land.”

[9:23] ED: “Sea water intrusion and land sinking […] can contribute to infrastructure damage. […] For example, when land sinks, there are pipes running underneath […] and those pipes can break. Contamination from sea water can render some groundwater aquifers unusable. And then you have to switch over to a different source and you have to switch over infrastructure, […] build new infrastructure, replace old infrastructure. And I think it also just highlights the need for better water infrastructure in the United States.”

Rating: 💧💧💧

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple
🕰️ 13 min | 🗓️ 08/24/2021
✅ Time saved: 11 min

Additional Links:
Hydroviv Blog: “Hidden Effects of Drought on Drinking Water”