Protecting Scarce Dryland Water
United States of America
ICARDA is grateful to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S. Forest Service, and the governments of India, Morocco, and Australia for funding this research. ICARDA would also like to recognize its partners the Central Arid Zone Research Institute (CAZRI), L’Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA) Maroc, and the National Agricultural Research Center (NARC) Jordan.
By Dr. Vinay Nangia, ICARDA Research Team Leader in Soils, Waters, and Agronomy
Freshwater is a rare commodity on our planet. It only makes up around three percent of all the water that’s available in our vast oceans – and is mostly in a frozen state. What fills rivers, lakes, and streams is only a tiny percentage of total global freshwater. Yet hidden in underground aquifers, after seeping through layers of sand, gravel, and bedrock, is 60 times more water than in our rivers.
Over centuries we have accessed this water through wells and springs, and more recently pumps. But as water needs grow, excessive pumping for irrigation and municipal uses has depleted global groundwater reserves. Water quality has also become increasingly compromised as seepages of industrial, municipal, and agricultural toxic waste and chemicals work their way down and taint previously pure groundwater supplies.