Washington’s Prehistoric Water Could Soon be History

KENNEWICK, Washington — There is nothing more refreshing on a hot day than a naturally cold glass of deep well water — free of charge and of chlorine. But deep wells are in danger in Eastern Washington, authorities report. A recently released study by the Columbia Basin Groundwater Management Area shows that residents benefiting from gushing ice-age aqua might soon be begging for a mere modern trickle.

Standard procedure perpetuates the problem. When irrigators find their shallower wells fail to produce, they drill deeper — into groundwater that scientists estimate arrived there during the floods of the ice-age. This source cannot replenish, they say, because it is blocked by impermeable volcanic rock called basalt.

“Water-level records show groundwater mining is occurring with many wells declining faster than they can naturally recharge,” explained Paul Stoker, executive director of the region’s groundwater management agency. “Digging deeper isn’t going to solve this.”

Read more here.

Source: The Seattle Times

Inset image by Mauricio Anton and courtesy of PLoS, filed under a CC license.

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