As current sources of drinkable water dwindle, scientist may have found the answer under the ocean of all places. “The volume of this water resource is a hundred times greater than the amount we’ve extracted from the Earth’s sub-surface in the past century since 1900,” says Vincent Post, the Australian groundwater expert and lead on the project.
Image courtesy of Ken Hodge via flickr cc
The report estimates 500,000 cubic kilometers of low salinity water buried under various seabeds around the world that could be reached using platforms that are similar to offshore oil rigs that are used today. The water is not immediately drinkable, but much easier to desalinate than salt water and comparable dry land basins have been used in the past.
Challenges include setting up drilling operations, which would incur a large initial cost, and using the water effectively. “We should use them carefully: once gone, they won’t be replenished until the sea level drops again, which is not likely to happen for a very long time,” warns Post. Overuse or contamination of these reserves would result in a major loss of resources that we may literally need to survive.