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Better management of groundwater needed in Pakistan

University of Agriculture Faisalabad, Pakistan.
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University of Agriculture Faisalabad, Pakistan.

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University of Agriculture Faisalabad, Pakistan.

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The United States, China, India, Iran and Pakistan together account for more than 60% of the groundwater that is removed worldwide each year. Pakistan alone withdraws 6.6%, amounting to 65 cubic kilometres annually — 10 km3 more than is replaced each year by natural processes.

Pakistan, as a leading exporter of water-intensive crops such as rice, uses more global groundwater (29%, based on 2010 estimates) for agricultural exports than any other country (C. Dalin et al. Nature 543, 700–704; 2017). It recycles just 1.2% of its urban wastewater, whereas China and India reuse 71% and 22% of theirs, respectively (A. L. Thebo et al. Environ. Res. Lett. 12, 074008; 2017). Wastewater that is dumped into natural streams or used in irrigation ultimately finds its way into groundwater.

To improve management of Pakistan’s groundwater and avert a crisis, research is urgently needed into the impact of these practices on the quality and quantity of groundwater.

Nature 554, 300 (2018)

doi: 10.1038/d41586-018-02065-3

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