When the western United States are drained

When the western United States are drained

Based on an article by Dennis Dimick of National Geographic

“We’re pumping irreplaceable groundwater to counter the drought. When it’s gone, the real crisis begins.”


Climate change brings drought. The drought brings the drainage of underground water supplies.

The Colorado River Basin is losing its water rapidly. Most of the water lost, in fact 75% of it, is groundwater. In only 9 years the basin has lost 65 cubic kilometers of water. This makes up for twice the amount of water stored in Lake Mead, which is the largest reservoir in the United States.

Maybe you think it would not matter if this basin lost so much of its water. The truth is, it would matter. This basin forms the water supply for over 40 million Americans and Mexicans across 7 states, including California, Arizona, Nevada and Colorado. Those 40 million people would be in serious trouble if the Colorado River Basin would go completely dry.

But this problem doesn’t limit itself to just the Colorado River Basin. California’s Central Valley and the southern Great Plains are also being drained.

Groundwater supplies make up for half the needs of the people in the United States. We’re draining the country, while the water doesn’t just magically reappear. Isn’t it time to find another way to meet our needs?

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3 thoughts on “When the western United States are drained

  1. The title of this blog drew my attention. Offcourse it is unthinkable to vision the mighty US waterless! For what purpose is all that water being used for? I assume a large part of it is being used for irrigation? They should think of ways using the water more sustainably. Watering the crobs more effectivly and catch the run off. What are your thoughts on how they should address this drainage of the underground water supplies?

    Another thought: Is there a chance of land subsidence? Or is that being covered?

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    1. Hi! Thanks for your comment. I read an article when we began this course, and it said that roughly 80% of the water in California was used for agriculture. So definitely they should think of more efficient ways to water their crops. For one they could reduce the amount of avocados they produce (that’s a joke of course). But quite a lot of that 80% is being used for watering pastures on which animals such as cows are kept. I think they should look at other types of keeping animals, or to downsize their use of land so that there is less land to water. Also, yes, land subsidence is a risk. It is actually already happening, in California it mainly occurs in San Joaquin Valley. Sinkholes also occur, and the amount of these will increase when more water is drained from underground. But it’s definitely a real thing that they’re sinking down there.

      Liked by 1 person

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