How can overdrafting from aquifers affect the environment?

1 Answer
Jan 2, 2018

Drying of natural springs and land subsidence


Aquifers represent the the main freshwater reservoirs in many areas of the world. The quality of groundwater is generally better than the one of rivers, lakes and streams because of the protected setting.

Over-drafting groundwater has negative impact on the environment:

  • Natural springs may die-out because of the water level drops below the one needed for them to flow.

  • The lowering of the water table may cause land subsidence with formation of sinkholes and/or damage to the overlying infrastructures. As example Venice (Italy) was sinking below the sea level mostly because of too much water was being pumped from the city water wells. Once these wells were closed the sinking was strongly reduced. Water table drop can cause sudden collapse in karts terrains such as in Florida (USA).

  • In coastal areas over-drafting facilitates seawater ingression within the aquifer which becomes contaminated by brackish water.