Islands to face water problems as sea levels rise, populations grow
August 15, 2007
Islands in the tropical Pacific may face water problems as sea levels rise and populations grow, warns research published in Vadose Zone Journal.
Studying the vadose zone, the critical area between the soil surface and groundwater, an international team of researchers found that "both the quantity and salinity of atoll groundwater is extremely vulnerable to frequent ENSO-related droughts."
"In long droughts domestic water wells are often too salty too drink and some communities have to rely on large groundwater lenses or on coconuts," say the authors, who add that over-pumping or inappropriate methods of pumping can cause groundwater to become salty.
The researchers report that due to the high permeablality of coral soils, surface contaminants can reach shallow fresh groundwater within an hour of being split on the soil surface, in some areas.
Image courtesy of the Image Science & Analysis Laboratory, NASA Johnson Space Center.
The paper recommends several steps to help increase the resilience of small island communities to water—related issues: providing a sound institutional basis for the management of water and sanitation; improving community participation in water and related land planning and management; increasing the capacity of villagers and local agencies to manage water and sanitation under variable climates; improving knowledge of available water resources and demand for them; improving water conservation and demand management and reducing leakages; increasing the use of rainwater by households and communities; protecting groundwater source areas from contamination; improving sanitation systems to minimize water use and groundwater pollution; and ensuring that water aid programs are long-term partnerships that foster local engagement and ownership of solutions.
This article is based on a news release from Vadose Zone Journal
CITATION: mongabay.com (August 15, 2007).
Islands to face water problems as sea levels rise, populations grow.
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