September 23, 2022
The hot and dry summer seems to have ended in the Netherlands and neighboring countries. Sunbeams have given way to raindrops and rainbows again, while nature looks as green as ever. Below the “green” surface, however, the impact of this year’s exceptional drought is still visible.
Dutch groundwater levels reached historic lows this summer . In neighboring Germany, a study from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology showed that the drought effects have accumulated over the years, as winter precipitation can no longer compensate for summer shortages. This particularly affects groundwater resources, Germany’s main source of drinking water .
Declining groundwater levels due to a reduced refilling rate, and the increased water demand in summer, made water utility companies struggle to meet demand. Several countries even experienced water shortages . The Head of Policy and Development of one of the Dutch water utility companies told GreenMarked that “water boards are in transition. For centuries, the policy was to drain water to the sea as quickly as possible. Instead, we now need to hold it and “conserve” it as best as we can”.
If the climate crisis is not addressed, Germany’s groundwater levels are expected to drop “significantly” by the end of the century. Such a scenario will put enormous pressure on local water resources, threatening the country’s water and food security even more .
“During future dry periods, strong usage conflicts can be expected in areas of low water availability between water suppliers and industry (process and cooling water), additionally amplified by increasing agricultural irrigation demand.” 
In Mexico, one of the world’s water quality hotspots regions , water overuse is extreme, reaching can be up to 300 % in certain areas. It means that three times more water is extracted than what can naturally be replenished. A documentary from Deutsche Welle reveals that excessive water extraction in Mexico City causes subsidence of up to 40 cm every year, bursting underground water pipes. Millions of Mexicans have already been directly affected, leaving them dependent on private water companies delivering drinking water with trucks. However, storing water in domestic storage tanks can pose crucial risks to water quality, and requires consistent monitoring .
“Competition with nature for water has become a battle for human existence” 
Worldwide, about 4 billion people face severe water shortages for at least one month a year . The case of Mexico City shows that the problem is not limited to water availability alone. The usability of water for human purposes and the health of ecosystems depends on both sufficient water quantity and appropriate water quality .
Sustainable Development Goal no. 6 aims to achieve “safe and affordable drinking water for all” and to “reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity” . Meeting these goals requires a shift in focus from solutions that look exclusively to water quantity (e.g. increasing water use efficiency) to those that contribute to both water quantity and water quality improvements .
Read How much water does your 24-hours day consume? on GreenMarked to find out how you can contribute.
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 De Graaf, P. (2022, 1 September). Water boards prepare for extremes, but even there the battle between agriculture and nature plays out. (Translated by Author). Retrieved from https://www.volkskrant.nl/nieuws-achtergrond/waterschappen-bereiden-zich-voor-op-extremen-maar-ook-daar-speelt-de-strijd-tussen-landbouw-en-natuur~b08ae143/
 Wunsch, A., Liesch, T. & Broda, S. (2022). Deep learning shows declining groundwater levels in Germany until 2100 due to climate change. Nat Commun 13, 1221. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-022-28770-2
 Van Vliet, M. T., Jones, E. R., Flörke, M., Franssen, W. H., Hanasaki, N., Wada, Y., & Yearsley, J. R. (2021). Global water scarcity including surface water quality and expansions of clean water technologies. Environmental Research Letters, 16(2), 024020. https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/abbfc3
 Salehi, M. (2022). Global water shortage and potable water safety; Today’s concern and tomorrow’s crisis. Environment International, 158, 106936. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2021.106936
 DW Documentary (2022, 17 August). What happens when our water dries up? Retrieved from What happens when our water dries up? | DW Documentary – YouTube
 United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. (n.d.). Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. Retrieved from https://sdgs.un.org/goals/goal6
Cover- and preview image: Water quality degradation and the climate crisis effects on a local river system in Germany. Free source photo by Peggychoucair on Pixabay.