Africa Sitting On Tons of ... Water?

Seemingly dry continent has vast groundwater reserves
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 20, 2012 9:34 AM CDT
Africa Sitting On Tons of ... Water?
Believe it or not, there's groundwater underneath this.   (Getty Images)

Believe it or not, Africa is lousy with water—it's just mostly underground. British scientists have produced a new map of the groundwater hidden in aquifers under the arid continent, and found that there's about 100 times more water down there than there is on the surface, the BBC reports. Indeed, the map shows that many areas that are currently short on water have plenty of untapped aquifers beneath them. (Click to see it.)

But scientists haven't reached a consensus on how best to access or make use of the resource. Many of the aquifers haven't been refilled in 5,000 years, meaning large-scale wells could rapidly deplete the reserves. "High-yielding boreholes should not be developed without a thorough understanding of the local groundwater conditions," the study's lead author says. He recommends "boreholes for low-yielding rural water supply and hand pumps" instead. Freshwater shortages are a growing problem in the world; US intelligence believes it may soon be the new oil. (Read more groundwater stories.)

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