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Water Rights

Water Wave



Water conservationists might learn a thing or two from the oil industry. That's right!

Groundwater experts at the University of Oregon say that millions of water wells around the world are rapidly depleting aquifers that took millennia to fill. In fact, half the world's drinking water is now in jeopardy.

That's where the oil industry comes in. Todd Jarvis of the University of Oregon's Institute for Water and Watersheds says we now face water shortages in the same way the oil industry reached peak production in the 1970s.

And just like oil deposits, pumping can irrevocably damage underground aquifers if they're drained too much or too fast. Tiny fissures that store water can collapse. Then, even if more water becomes available, it has no place to go.

To solve its shortage, the oil industry developed a concept called "unitization." That means parties with a claim to a region's oil worked cooperatively to make a deposit last as long as possible and without damage.

Jarvis says that the unitization model could be applied to water rights, although governments might have to provide a little encouragement. It's certainly an idea worth tapping into.

Learn more about their recommendation, other water solutions, and how to conserve water yourself.

Script by Gail Davis

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