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Is Underground Water Renewable or Nonrenewable?

For several decades, humans are suited to live within the water cycle limits. With economic development, population growth, and food…

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10/07/2020 9:55 AM

For several decades, humans are suited to live within the water cycle limits. With economic development, population growth, and food change, the need for food and water has increased drastically. The resulting expansion of irrigation schemes in the arid areas has really improved the reliance of the irrigated crops to utilize groundwater. Additionally, due to the increased number of individuals living in town, accessing clean surface water becomes challenging, therefore, increasing the urban groundwater use. As the need for water continues to grow, the utilization of groundwater also increases. So is the groundwater renewable or nonrenewable?

Basically, the conception of water resources is multifaceted. It is not solely restricted to its physical measure (hydrogeological and hydrological). But include other more environmental, qualitative, and social-economic aspects.

Types of water resources

There are renewable and nonrenewable water resources. The renewable water resource is the average flow of rivers, lakes, and aquifer recharge produced from the process of precipitation. On the other hand, nonrenewable water resources are deep aquifers or groundwater that possess a minor recharge rate on the human time-scale. Therefore, it can be nonrenewable.

Why is groundwater renewable

To understand why groundwater is renewable, you must first comprehend the different ways humans use water as the excessive utilization of water can gear to depletion of the groundwater resource. Water utilization, in simple terms, encompasses water withdrawal, demand, and consumption.

Water demand

Water demand refers to the water required by individuals in specific sectors like agriculture, domestic, and industry to enhance their activities. Domestic need for water resource encompasses the water necessary for cooking, bathing, drinking, toilet flushing, and watering the garden. The demand for water in the agricultural sector covers irrigation for crop growth and livestock feeds, and water directly required for livestock, especially for drinking. Industrial demand for water includes manufacturing or cooling product to support the process of production.

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Keep in mind that the water required to process animal-based products is confined in the industrial demand. Probably, the need for water is detached into water net demand. That is to say, the demand for water that is required, and the gross water demand is encompassing the losses. For instance, the net demand for water used for irrigation can be the difference between actual plant transpiration and potential plant transpiration without irrigation. Gross demand for water is, therefore, equated to the net application plus the evaporation and percolation losses experienced during the transport of water and use during irrigation.

Water withdrawal

Withdrawal refers to the water taken from the underground to meet the need for gross water demand. When water is sufficient, the total demand for water is equal to water withdrawal. When water is insufficient, water availability is comparable to water withdrawal. In such a case, the gross demand for water is similar to the water Gap minus the water availability. Keep in mind that in some research, the renewability of water is considered primarily in the industrial field. Similarly, the gross demand for water can be higher than water withdrawal since most of the demand is met when water gets recycled. Besides, in some areas with scarce water, deficit irrigation mostly occurs, and water supplied is optically less, leading to decreased gross demand.

Consumptive water use

Use refers to the withdrawn groundwater that is lost to the atmosphere due to evaporation and transpiration. That means the withdrawn water minus the consumptive use is referred to as the return flow to the surface and the groundwater. The return flow is also available for utilization elsewhere; however, it is subject to quality water issues or wastewater treatment in several cases. Keep in mind that even though there is sufficient water, consumptive utilization is not similar to the net demand as net demand only encompasses the beneficial part of the water lost by evaporation and not water lost due to transport.

Bottom line

Basically, groundwater is a renewable resource. It is extracted for domestic utilization, including agriculture. Aquifers can recharge water from precipitation, lakes, or rivers. The recharge capacity is tailored by the state of consolidation and the rock material that enables water to move from one area to another. When at the surface, it can be reused to the maximum to meet the demand.

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Steve Tarcos

I`m Steve, an Engineer who is highly involved and interested in the world of renewable energy. In my spare time, I play with my kids and watch documentaries.