, Volume 18, Issue 2, pp 287-289
Date: 02 Oct 2009

Editor′s message: the sunk cost fallacy of deep drilling

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The observed facts

At the beginning of 2008, I visited a watershed, located in Karkinatam village in the state of Karnataka, South India, where crops are intensively irrigated using groundwater. The water table had been depleted from a depth of 5 to 50 m in a large part of the area. Presently, 42% of a total of 158 water wells in the watershed are dry. Speaking with the farmers, I have been amazed to learn that they were drilling down to 500 m to tap water. This case is, of course, not isolated.

Large regions, for example in South America, Africa and South Asia, are constituted by crystalline rocks. The same regions face water scarcity under arid to semi-arid conditions. Therefore, fractured crystalline aquifers constitute groundwater reserves that are exploited in many parts of the world. In India, groundwater pumped from hard rocks represents the main resource for irrigation and has been sustaining the Green Revolution (Swaminathan 2007) for several decades. The mining of groundwater r

Jean-Christophe Maréchal is an Associate Editor of Hydrogeology Journal.