U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee Releases New Fact Sheet on Groundwater and Its Importance on the Economy

Published On: June 6, 2024By Categories: Newsline

The U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee announced in May a new fact sheet on groundwater and how vital it is for the United States and its economy.

Groundwater plays an outsize role in supporting the U.S. economy with 90% of U.S. water systems relying on groundwater to meet demand, according to the fact sheet. It is particularly vital for agricultural production and for the estimated 13 million American households that rely on private wells for their drinking water.

The fact sheet also reveals how groundwater provides essential benefits for Americans and the economy:

  • Groundwater is important for irrigating food, livestock, and industrial crops in the United States, and also a key input in mining, manufacturing, energy generation, and other industrial processes.
  • Groundwater reserves serve as an important buffer against surface water shortages, which are expected to increase as the climate changes. In a drought, groundwater can serve as insurance because surface water supplies are more variable.
  • Looking at international evidence, low-income countries with access to adequate safe water and sanitation saw 3.6% higher GDP growth compared to those with limited access, highlighting the economic benefits of water security.
  • Some scholars have advocated for applying traditional asset valuation measures to groundwater to better estimate the economic impacts of conservation policies. A study using this approach found that increased groundwater withdrawals from Kansas’s High Plains aquifer between 1996 and 2005 reduced the state’s wealth by $1.1 billion.

Click here to read more and access the fact sheet.

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