SAN FRANCISCO, March 6 (UPI) -- U.S. scientists say climate change may bring unsustainable demands on the world's groundwater supply for agriculture, industry and drinking water.
As precipitation becomes less frequent due to climate change, lake and reservoir levels will drop and people will increasingly turn to groundwater for the water needs, researchers said.
Groundwater supplies nearly half of all drinking water worldwide, they said, but recharges at a much slower rate than above-ground water sources and in many cases is non-renewable.
"It is clear that groundwater will play a critical role in society's adaption to climate change," said San Francisco State University geoscience Professor Jason Gurdak, who co-led a U.N.-sponsored group of scientists now urging policymakers to increase regulations and conservation measures on nonrenewable groundwater.
Gurdak said he is recommending closely monitoring or limiting groundwater pumping as well as seeking cooperation from communities to consume less water, something he said his own state has been doing.
"In many ways, California is leading the way in developing solutions," he said. "Artificial recharge, managed storage and recovery projects and low impact development around the state will become more important for many local water systems to bank excess water in aquifers."
The U.N. science team will present its findings to international policymakers at the World Water Forum in Marseille, France, beginning March 12, an SFSU release said Tuesday.