Current projections indicate that the world population will increase from the current 6.9 billion people to 9.1 billion in 2050. An increase that will require 70% more food production globally, and up to 100% more in developing countries , compared to 2009 levels (United Nations, nd). A situation that indicates a significant increase in the consumption of drinking water within the domestic, industrial and agricultural sectors. Since without this vital liquid, the internal processes would not be possible, much less the products generated.
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According to the FAO (2010), groundwater supplies drinking water to at least 50% of the world’s population and represents 43% of all the water used for irrigation. A large dependency worldwide that indicates that approximately 2,500 million people exclusively need groundwater resources to meet their basic daily water needs (UNESCO, 2012).
Groundwater is understood as that which accumulates naturally between rocks or permeable sediments to which we access through springs and wells. In relation to the latter, cities integrate it into their dynamics in two different ways:
- Cities with drinking water supply from surface sources, but intensely exploited by private wells (many illegal, but without them there would be shortages), and
- Cities with drinking water supply from underground sources, often with a significant number of private wells.
It should be noted that to reach groundwater, drilled wells are required. Those catchment technologies that are found within the supply systems in the communities.
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The commissioning of a well requires a preliminary study of the land, an analysis of the healthiness of the water to be extracted, drilling, sometimes more than a hundred meters deep, and conditioning the installation. In this way, it is possible to reach the aquifer, extract the liquid by means of pumps and fill the tanks in residential areas. Furthermore, beyond these processes, predictive, preventive and corrective maintenance is included.
The extraction of groundwater gives rise to various types of environmental problems, among them: the degradation of the quality of the water pumped. It is estimated that 20% of the world’s aquifers are being overexploited (Gleeson et al., 2012), which will have serious consequences, such as ground subsidence and saltwater intrusion (USGS, 2013).
Now, examples of global impact are India and Mexico. The first country has increased the total number of mechanized wells and tube wells from less than 1 million in 1960 to 19 million in the year 2000, contributing greatly to poverty alleviation, but at the same time it has caused serious tension in the subsoil in some areas (UN Water, 2015).
On the other hand, other researchers from Mexico (Huizar – Alvarez, sf) indicate the following effects: (a) Raising of the water level due to intentional artificial recharge or Lowering of the groundwater level, (b) Compaction of the skeleton of the aquifer (consolidation), (c) Soil erosion due to the disappearance of vegetation (lowering of the water level), (d) Disappearance of wetlands, (e) Changes in the amount of recharge or reduction of the discharge to inland water bodies and in coastal areas, and (f) Contamination by final disposal of waste. Change in water quality induced by pumping.
The business of many
Groundwater wells are emerging as a business for many private companies within the country. They are in charge of drilling, maintenance and inspection. A few months ago, the total cost was between US$15,000 and US$25,000, but we asked ourselves: Do the companies submit an environmental impact study to the corresponding national entity for each drilling project? Do the companies have reliable statistics on the wells drilled within the country? And how many companies make up this business?
On the other hand, the real estate sector already perceives it as a requirement for the purchase and sale of an apartment in large Venezuelan cities. Without this vital liquid, few are the clients who risk having a property with precarious sanitary measures.
For good governance it is necessary to recognize according to Dr. Hirata (nd):
- The regularization or legalization of private wells
- The identification of wells with poor construction, design and maintenance
- Prioritization in the identification of areas with excess extraction or contamination Due to financial and personnel restrictions in the responsible management bodies.
- Establishing pilot studies and implementing management measures. Second, define organizational arrangements to later incorporate legal and institutional reforms.
- The search for integrated use – groundwater and surface water – to increase water security (+ climate change)
- The making of the conflicts of the subterranean water resource (overexploitation and contamination) more apparent, through mechanisms of social communication.
In addition, other conditions are necessary:
- Reduce distrust in the use of this type of water with reliable projects, certified and endorsed by a governing body (university, consultant, company)
- Design treatments for water extracted from wells with altered organoleptic, chemical and/or biological characteristics. In the event that it is not possible to include the closure of water wells not suitable for human consumption.
- Propose an efficient and sustainable management model for groundwater from the Venezuelan State that includes all the actors involved.
- Carry out a local hydrogeological study to achieve a better characterization of the geological formations that make up the aquifer system and to determine the vulnerability of the aquifers that support the supply of the communities.
- Update the inventory of groundwater (wells) at the national level: actual number of wells, type of use, characteristics of the aquifer, volume, quality, discharge and recharge zones, depth
- Hire qualified personnel for the management, design and implementation of projects.
- Articulate local, state and regional actors at the national level.
- Articulate the educational sector (thesis students and interns) with national investigations of groundwater.
- Activate private and public research centers.