Sample Geology Case Study Paper on Human Impacts on the Sustainability of Groundwater

Human Impacts on the Sustainability of Groundwater


            The term ground water has been conceptualized as an invisible component of the hydrosphere, representing a hidden part of the water cycle (Alley et al., 1999). The term groundwater can simply be defined as the water below the ground surface. The global groundwater use has increased manifold in the past 50 years as a result of rapid increase in population. Ever since the heydays, a vast majority of people have exploited the groundwater for a wide array of uses.  However, the current peak numbers of population has led to a great concern in terms of the sustainability of the groundwater. This is mainly because of the fact that the groundwater continues to be the major source of water to a large portion of the population. Today, the world’s population abstracts two hundred times more water from the ground than oil (Mays, 2012). Besides this, factors such as pollution, industrialization and over usage of fertilizers for farming also contribute to the deteriorating state of the groundwater system. Among the world’s greatest concern today is the future sustainability of groundwater. There are many factors that determine the sustainability of ground water; this includes changes in ground water quality, land subsidence, depletion of groundwater storage, reduction in stream flow among many other factors (Alley et al, 1999).

YearHuman developmentCharacteristics of Groundwater
1800sHuman population with limited housing and large forests, Low levels ofindustrializationHigh level of groundwater, Good quality of water, little contamination
1900sIncreased human population and substantial increase in housing and industrial development, decrease in forestry by 50%Reduced level of groundwater, contamination of groundwater system thus leading to reduced quality of water
2000sHousing development and industrial development, significant reduction in forestry due to deforestation for human inhabitation, high levels of salt water infiltrationMassive reduction in groundwater level, high rates of water pollution
2015Massive industrialization, increase in construction of houses and business centers, saltwater infiltration, legislation that have led to reduction in levels of pollutionDestruction of majority groundwater system, reduced level of contamination as a result of the laws and regulations meant to manage pollution

Purpose of study

  • To determine whether the current human development affects the sustainability of the groundwater system.

Background study

            The sustainability of groundwater system is at stake. This is because of the rapid rate of population increase that utilizes groundwater as the major source of water. The underground water continues to be depleted as a result of some of the best human innovations such as water pumps which can now be easily used by people in their attempt to get water from the underground system. Besides this, the rate of global warming has affected the groundwater system because of the rise in evaporation rates of water on the subsurface of the earth (Mays, 2012). It is with this profound reason that the quantity of groundwater has reduced significantly in such a manner that it cannot sustain the vast number of people all over the world.

            The pollution rate is also on its peak due to poor industrial waste disposal as well as exploitation of fertilizers used in farming. These pollutants act as contaminants of the groundwater as the pollutants infiltrate or seep to the groundwater system. Due to such levels of contamination, the quality of the groundwater system decreases. The water from the groundwater system becomes unsafe to utilize by humans and thus affects the general public who rely on the groundwater system as a source of water. Besides this, urbanization affects the groundwater system due to the creation of an imbalance on the underground rocks that sustain the groundwater system. This is due to the massive construction of buildings and other infrastructure such as roads which are done above the groundwater system (Shah & International water management institute, 2000). This thus interferes with the arrangement and sustainability of the rocks which destroys the underground water system.


            Amid today’s tremendously grown human population together with the current rate of development, the future sustainability of groundwater system will be a difficult task.


  1. Collection and evaluation of background information on the areas geology, hydrology and some of the factors that could affect the groundwater quality
  2. Carrying out field activities using the environmental standard procedures that purpose to accumulate relevant data
  3. Carrying out an analysis of the groundwater system and careful evaluation of the results
  4. Carrying out performance evaluation of the results for accuracy purposes
  5. Carrying out comprehensive interpretation of the accumulated analytical data that comprises of the geology, environmental condition and hydrology of the specific region


            Based on the results, there has been a great decline in the water levels of the groundwater system. The decline in the levels of groundwater is as a result of the alarming rates of pumping water from the subsurface. The bursting population needs water on a daily basis and due to this; many have exploited groundwater as the major source. Besides this, many industries utilize groundwater source so as to get water for the many industrial process functions. This has led to depletion of water from the groundwater source causing the drastically decline of the levels of groundwater.

The quality of water obtained from the groundwater system was found to have deteriorated due to contamination by industrial chemicals and fertilizer. This is because of the excess fertilizer and industrial chemicals which infiltrated to reach the groundwater system. It is due to this factor that the water from some groundwater systems have become unsafe for human utilization.


  • Control of the environmental pollution by formulating ways of properly disposing industrial wastes
  • With the help of professionals, the government should monitor the areas that possibly have groundwater system before allowing any construction to take place in that given area
  • Proper application of fertilizers without having to overuse it. This would limit the amount of fertilizers seeping through the ground to reach and contaminate the underground water.
  • Utilizing other sources of water such as lakes so as to avoid overexploitation of ground water source. This would help in maintaining the natural levels of groundwater.
  • Inhibition of practicessuch as mining on land that’s postulated to harbor groundwater systems. This would help in protecting the natural source of water.
  • Proper disposal of gasses from industrial sectors which would react with water to form acidic or alkaline chemicals that would infiltrate to the groundwater. This helps in safeguarding groundwater from dangerous chemical pollutants thus maintaining stellar quality of water.


Alley, W. M., Reilly, T. E., &Franke, O. L. (1999).Sustainability of ground-water resources. Denver, CO: U.S. Dept. of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey.

Mays, L. W. (2012).Ground and surface water hydrology. Hoboken, N.J: Wiley.

Shah, T., & International Water Management Institute. (2000). The global groundwater situation: Overview of opportunities and challenges. Colombo, Sri Lanka: International Water Management Institute.