9 million Canadians get their drinking water from underground aquifers - but scientists say these hidden resources are on a trajectory to run dry.

For the past 20 years, scientists have been monitoring groundwater depletion in California’s Central Valley using NASA satellites.

Groundwater, typically accessed as aquifers, represents the world’s largest freshwater resource, providing water for more than 2 billion people, globally.

Their conclusion is that the groundwater depletion rate in California has accelerated to a point where resources could disappear over the next several decades — primarily due to the continued demands of agriculture and recurring and severe drought due to climate change and depleted soil.

The accelerated depletion is despite the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) adopted in 2014 to prevent over-pumping and stabilize the aquifers.

The full report, by renowned water scientist Dr. Jay Famiglietti (PhD), director of the Global Institute for Water Security at the University of Saskatchewan, can be read here.

So, what does this mean for Canadians?

In Canada, groundwater dependence has grown from 10% of the population to 30% in the past 45 years. Dependence varies between the provinces with PEI having 100% dependence on groundwater while Alberta has 23% dependence.

In Saskatchewan, where more than 60 million acres account for the biggest share of Canada’s total farmland, 43% of the population relies on groundwater — in the shape of 60,000 water wells.

Saskatchewan, known as Canada’s breadbasket, is also currently on track to double its irrigable land, to substantially increase its food production capacity, by 2030.

“Currently we’re OK, but if we want to increase food production and we want to be doing it on an annual, sustainable basis, that means irrigation and that means having continuous access to water. To me that means groundwater,” says Famiglietti. “We have to think about how much groundwater we need for sustainable food production, and then to manage to balance that with changing surface water availability so that we can do it for centuries, not just for a few decades.”

Piloting new ways to use less, waste less.

Ionic Solutions understands the value of water and the increasingly urgent need to protect our limited resources. We know that relatively small changes applied to large systems and processes can safeguard billions of gallons of water for our planet.

We are currently piloting several projects across Canada and beyond that dramatically reduce the volume of water drawn from aquifers by industrial partners including power companies, manufacturing plants and agricultural operators.

By applying our use less, waste less philosophy, we are working with these partners to ensure they draw less groundwater for their processes, recover more freshwater from their wastewater and protect our planet’s resources for future generations.

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