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Groundwater – A hidden resource under pressure

In line with the year of groundwater 2022 and making the invisible visible, NWP has published a White Paper called ‘Groundwater – A hidden resource under pressure’. This White Paper outlines the challenges associated with groundwater use and management, and highlights the importance of groundwater for a healthy and thriving society and ecosystems. In addition, it presents the main threats that groundwater reserves currently face, the future outlook and the actions necessary to counter groundwater depletion. This White Paper came about in collaboration with NWP members Royal Eijkelkamp, Acacia Water and Blik Sensing.

NWP White Paper Groundwater - A hidden resource under pressure

Groundwater is the reserve of water that is located underneath the surface of the earth, in soil and porous rock. Groundwater constitutes the largest amount of the world’s freshwater, notably approximately 97 percent. This excludes the freshwater that is stored in glaciers and ice caps. The remaining three percent is found in water bodies such as lakes, rivers and ponds as well as soil moisture. Though it is a source that is not directly visible, the human population and terrestrial ecosystems are largely dependent on groundwater for various purposes. These purposes can be categorised into four types: provisioning, supporting, regulatory and cultural services.

Provisioning services describe the withdrawal of groundwater for human activities such as agriculture, industry and drinking water. Groundwater has always been considered an important direct source of drinking water. In the European Union, 75 percent of the population is dependent on groundwater for their drinking water. Additionally, it is a crucial resource for industry and agriculture.
Increased population growth increases the pressure on groundwater resources. There is a higher demand for freshwater and food production, and meeting the increasing needs must happen against a backdrop of climate change. Many countries are already facing serious groundwater issues.

Although there are estimates of groundwater stress, too little information is available on the precise decline rates.  Better management and improved decision-making are key.

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