Some good reading on this election day in the USA.
Groundwater is an important source of water for many human needs, including public supply, agriculture, and industry. With the development of any natural resource, however, adverse consequences may be associated with its use. One of the primary concerns related to the development of groundwater resources is the effect of groundwater pumping on streamflow. Groundwater and surface-water systems are connected, and groundwater discharge is often a substantial component of the total flow of a stream. Groundwater pumping reduces the amount of groundwater that flows to streams and, in some cases, can draw streamflow into the underlying groundwater system. Streamflow reductions (or depletions) caused by pumping have become an important water-resource management issue because of the negative impacts that reduced flows can have on aquatic ecosystems, the availability of surface water, and the quality and aesthetic value of streams and rivers.
Scientific research over the past seven decades has made important contributions to the basic understanding of the processes and factors that affect streamflow depletion by wells. Moreover, advances in methods for simulating groundwater systems with computer models provide powerful tools for estimating the rates, locations, and timing of streamflow depletion in response to groundwater pumping and for evaluating alternative approaches for managing streamflow depletion. The primary objective of this report is to summarize these scientific insights and to describe the various field methods and modeling approaches that can be used to understand and manage streamflow depletion. A secondary objective is to highlight several misconceptions concerning streamflow depletion and to explain why these misconceptions are incorrect.
Good stuff from the USGS!
2) CHOICES: Theme Issue Overview: What Happens When the Well Goes Dry? And Other Agricultural Disasters
Ari Michelsen sent this my way.
According to the U.S. Drought Monitor (Figure 1), as of August 14, 2012,
62% of the contiguous United States was experiencing some form of drought, more than one third of which was classified as extreme or exceptional. Most of the extreme or exceptional drought is located in America’s breadbasket: Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky and Indiana. Georgia is also experiencing vast areas of exceptional drought. These conditions directly affect agriculture with the combination of above average temperatures and below average precipitation making it difficult to cultivate and sustain crops and graze livestock. The short-run results are crop failure for farmers and increased feed costs and reduced weight gain for ranchers.
Drought-induced shortages of corn will likely drive up food costs in the not so distant future. Additional longer-term impacts from the drought include:
- increased reforestation costs due to lost saplings, wildfire, and vulnerability to disease and pests;
- reduced productivity of pastures to produce hay;
- decreased livestock births and thus slower herd growth;
- and increased transportation costs on navigable waterways due to increased dredging and reduced barge capacity.
Very good reading!
Is it? Well, maybe not entirely, but resilience may supplant sustainability to some degree. At least it might become the latest fad. Yes, I'm old enough to recall catastrophe theory in hydrology.
Here is a brief video that is a promo for Zolli's book.
“In order to remain within acceptable discursive territory, politicians and researchers alike are expected to assume a profoundly critical stance vis-à-vis current patterns of consumption, transports, and energy use, yet continue to offer pathways to sustainability that do not seem too uncomfortable or provocative. This explains why the rallying-cry of the early 21st century is not ‘revolution’ (as in the early 20th century), but ‘resilience’.” - Alf Hornborg (from the Resilience Science blog)