Today is World Water Day, 22 March, 2022.

The theme: Groundwater –making the invisible visible.

The theme of World Water Day 2022 is groundwater. Groundwater is invisible, but its impact is visible everywhere.Out of sight,under our feet, groundwater is a hidden treasure that enriches our lives. In the driest parts of the world, it may be the only water people have. Almost all of the liquid freshwater in the world is groundwater, supporting drinking water supplies, sanitation systems, farming,industry and ecosystems. In many places,human activities over-use and pollute groundwater. In other places, we simply do not know how much water is down there. Groundwater will play a critical role in adapting to climate change. We need to work together to sustainably manage this precious resource. Groundwater may be out of sight, but it must not be out of mind.

What is groundwater?

Groundwater is water found underground in aquifers, which are geological formations of rocks, sands and gravels that hold substantial quantities of water. Groundwater feeds springs, rivers, lakes and wetlands, and seeps into oceans. Groundwater is recharged mainly from rain and snow falling filtrating the ground. Groundwater can be extracted to the surface by pumps and wells.

Why is groundwater important?

Almost all the liquid freshwater in the world is groundwater. Life would not be possible without groundwater. Most arid areas of the world depend entirely on groundwater. Groundwater supplies a large proportion of the water we use for drinking, sanitation, food production and industrial processes. Groundwater is also critically important to the healthy functioning of ecosystems, such as wetlands and rivers. Over exploitation of groundwater can lead to land instability and subsidence, and, in coastal regions,to sea water intrusion under the land.

Why should we care about groundwater?

Groundwater is being over-used in many areas, where more water is abstracted from aquifers than is recharged by rain and snow. Continuous over-use leads eventually to depletion of the resource. Groundwater is polluted in many areas and remediation is often a long and difficult process.This increases the costs of processing groundwater, and sometimes even prevents its use. In other places, we do not know how much groundwater lies beneath our feet, which means we could be failing to harness a potentially vital water resource.Exploring, protecting and sustainably using groundwater will be central to surviving and adapting to climate change and meeting the needs of a growing population.

What can we do about groundwater?

Groundwater has always been critically important but not fully recognized. We must protect groundwater from pollution and use it sustainably, balancing the needs of people and the planet. Groundwater’s vital role in water and sanitation systems, agriculture, industry, ecosystems and climate change adaptation must be reflected in sustainable development policy-making. Under the SDG6 Global Acceleration Framework, particularly in the areas of innovation,governance,data and information we need to see urgent action in relation to groundwater.

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