The Water Table
The Water Table & Environmental Concerns
The Water Table
The water table (also referred to as groundwater table) is a water-filled area between the surface of the ground and where the earth (soil, sand, rocks, etc) are saturated with water.
The water table makes up around 30% of the drinkable and arable water supply that is consumable and used for irrigation through wells. Even in droughts where other natural water sources such as dams and rivers dry up, this underground supply is accessible. Natural vegetation such as trees and other plants use this table as their main source of water.
Groundwater is normally replenished naturally through annual rainfall or precipitation. However, man-made structures may divert rainfall from topping up consumed or used water. This results in the depletion of the water table which in turn has a variety of negative consequences for the environment.
The depletion affects the growth of natural vegetation in an area which in turn influences the fauna or naturally occurring insects and wildlife. Long term impact studies show that continuous depletion of the water table will result in desertification.
Diverting the underground water from it’s natural route also changes the natural flow which can result in changes in the topography of an environment. Surface ground can become unstable or corrode as a result.
Agricultural pesticides, herbicides and other chemicals used in farming may also pollute the groundwater. This contributes to the extinction of both fauna and flora in a specific area or larger area depending on the flow of the groundwater.
Groundwater often flows into rivers, lakes or even the seas and oceans. This is where pollutants and ground contaminants have their greatest impact, destroying the aquatic life and their food sources.
Maintaining the water table is one of the most important environmental factors that needs to be taken into account in protecting one of the earth’s most valuable resources – water.