As part of the Water Institute's WaterTalks lecture series Professor Grant Ferguson, Associate Professor in the Department of Civil, Geological and Environment Engineering and Associate Member of the School of Environment and Sustainability at the University of Saskatchewan, will present "The Race for Groundwater."
There has been increasing demand for groundwater in many regions of the world due to increasing populations, changes in surface water availability due to climate change and shifting agricultural practices. Large-scale depletion of groundwater resources by pumping have been documented at the global scale. Decreases in groundwater availability due to water quantity constraints has received less attention. Widespread contamination from the top down by nitrates and other has effectively removed large volumes of groundwater from the available stores. Similarly, there are geochemical constraints on use of deeper groundwater. There are natural limits to the depth at which we can access deep groundwater due to increases in salinity with depth. The oil and gas industry and other emerging subsurface uses such as carbon sequestration and geothermal energy development are also using pore space either occupied by or in close proximity to fresh groundwater resources, effectively depleting groundwater resources from the bottom up. Understanding the competition between water resources, agriculture and the energy industry is a key issue facing humanity.