Sustainable Groundwater Management for Agriculture
September 01, 2022
Brian Richter, Senior Fellow, WWF
Melissa D. Ho, Senior Vice President, Freshwater and Food, WWF
Groundwater is the most abundant source of freshwater available to humans, despite being largely unseen and unprotected. It supports nearly half of all freshwater ecosystems and the volume of groundwater is 30 times greater than all available liquid freshwater resources found on the surface of our planet (lakes, streams, rivers combined). But groundwater is being overexploited, especially due to agriculture, which threatens ecosystems, infrastructure, food security and resilience, especially in the face of climate change. With one-quarter of global irrigated food production currently dependent on unsustainable groundwater extraction, agricultural use and management of groundwater needs to change.
This report consolidates what is needed for sustainable groundwater management into four basic principles: 1 ) Measure and Manage; 2) Set Sustainable Limits; 3) Recharge and Replenish; and 4) Reduce Demand and Maintain Balance. An easy-to-read literature review, this report provides examples of successful solutions from all over the world.