Questions for "Pumped Dry: The Global Crisis of Vanishing Groundwater"

  1. Discuss the following quotation. Why do you think water reserves are vanishing around the world? What are possible impacts? Explore the USA Today interactive for a more detailed investigation.

“Groundwater is disappearing beneath cornfields in Kansas, rice paddies in India, asparagus farms in Peru and orange groves in Morocco. As these critical water reserves are pumped beyond their limits, the threats are mounting for people who depend on aquifers to supply agriculture, sustain economies and provide drinking water. In some areas, fields have already turned to dust and farmers are struggling.”

  1. Read the following excerpts from "Pumped Dry," which come from reporting on challenges faced by four different countries. Discuss and analyze how your community could ultimately be impacted by these challenges.

Excerpt 1: “The ground has sunk in parts of California, Texas, Arizona and Nevada, cracking the foundations of houses, leaving fissures in the ground, and damaging roads, canals and bridges. As layers of aquifers gradually subside, their water-storing capacity is irreversibly decreasing.”

Excerpt 2: “The biggest problem, he said, is that no one can slow down the decline alone. And those who try to use less water will have the aquifer pumped out from beneath them by neighbors.”

Excerpt 3: “While the war in Syria is about much more than water, the tensions that led up to it were aggravated by severe drought, declines in groundwater and the government’s failure to provide water for agriculture. Many farmers were forced to abandon their lands and move to cities, and resentment festered.”

Excerpt 4: "'We don’t want them to come and exploit our water,' Joselyn said emphatically as she walked down an unpaved lane, followed by more than a dozen farmers and townspeople. 'That’s what we don’t want, for them to take Ocucaje’s water,' Joselyn said. 'We don’t want the water to be taken away because it’s the only livelihood we have.'"

Excerpt 5: “Wells have been going dry across the countryside, and the village’s one remaining well yields just enough to run the communal taps for an hour or two a day. In front of the spigots, people leave their empty water jugs and buckets arranged in rows, and they crowd around to collect what they can while the taps are running. The water could stop flowing at any time. “

  1. Discuss: Where have you noticed evidence of decreasing water supplies in your community? What are some possible solutions?
  2. Explore: Analyze the video, writing and photos used to examine one country as part of Pumped Dry and create a summary of the reporting on that country. Go to the interactive for full reporting on each country. Consider the following questions as you prepare your summary:
    • How does the article begin? Why do you think it starts this way?
    • What is groundwater and why is it important in this region?
    • What evidence is there that amount of groundwater is decreasing?
    • Why is groundwater depleting?
      • What are the impacts of decreasing groundwater?
      • What is the impact on the subjects of the article?
    • What are potentially more global impacts?
    • What does the article suggest are potential solutions to decreasing groundwater? What action steps have already been taken and what changes still need to be made?
  3. Consider the following about the writing of the article:
    • What was the structure of the article? What information was presented, and in what order?
    • How was information presented? What did you find to be the most impact pieces of information, and why?
    • What quotations/video/photos made the biggest impact on you? Why?



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