Industrial Farming Practices Would Benefit from Increased Sustainability amidst Strains on Aquifers
With aquifers and other precious water supplies becoming more strained with increased demands on agriculture, more sustainable options need to be implemented to safeguard future resources.
Water management is a critical infrastructure topic, as communities around the world are impacted by the ways in which this shared resource is treated. Widespread farming methods that resort to resource-intensive operations for creating their produce contribute to usage levels that will ultimate hurt their long-term viability. Additional issues of pollution impact community health as well. Being reactive to water scarcity and pollution can be a very expensive position to take, as impacts of adverse environmental conditions can cost billions to local economies (as previous examinations of issues like algal blooms have explored). Not to mention the variety of health impacts that affect animals and people.
As variability in water quantities has become a reality, and water quality fluctuates between locations, technologies and policies play an important role in maintaining healthy water resources for communities. Team Gemini and its team members continue to develop working solutions to address the need to treat and recycle wastewater and more.
A recent report outlines a number of issues relatable to large-scale, traditional agriculture practices and their impact on the Ogallala aquifer. The impact has been clear to see, and if methods of farming aren’t made more sustainable, then environmental and economic issues for growing populations around the world will become more severe.
The Ogallala aquifer is one of the world’s largest underground bodies of water, and many ecosystems and communities in the American West depend upon it – however the aquifer is in rapid decline due to over-exploitation of its resources. According to the Denver Post, farmers in eight American states (Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Wyoming and South Dakota) are putting strain on the aquifer by overdrawing water from beneath the soil they cultivate in a $35 billion dollar per year industry. If allowed to continue, this could threaten both the livelihood of farmers and the ecosystems of the West.
Because of the region’s intensive farming practices, agricultural wells are extracting water from the Ogallala aquifer significantly faster than it is being replenished. This trend appears to have accelerated in recent years. Federal data indicates that the aquifer contracted twice as fast in the past six years as it had in the previous sixty, with a significant impact on everyday water use in the West.
As a result of the exploitation of the Ogallala, at least 358 miles of rivers and streams have dried up within a 200-square-mile area in Colorado, Kansas, and Nebraska. If trends continued, an additional 177 miles of rivers and streams are expected to dry out by 2060. “We have almost completely changed the species of fish that can survive in those streams, compared with what was there historically,” said Keith Gido, author of a recent scientific report on the aquifer’s depletion, in an interview with the Denver Post. “We’re not living in as sustainable a fashion as we need to be. Much of the damage has been done.” The over-exploitation of the Ogallala aquifer and the plight of the American West is sadly not unique to the region. “It is happening all over the world in places such as Pakistan. It causes conflicts,” said Gido. “As human populations grow, the demand for water is going to be greater. Conflicts are going to increase—unless we become more efficient in using the water we have.”
With companies like A3-USA, Inc., Enviplan, and others, Team Gemini provides innovative, modular water and wastewater treatment technologies that are among the most efficient on the market, and help resolve issues related to various environmental factors. From Membrane Bioreactors to Ultrafiltration and Reverse Osmosis systems, these components are able to retain suspended matter, bacteria, and viruses (pathogens), and can even remove carbon, phosphorous, nitrogen, certain toxins, and bio-accumulative micro-contaminants.
Furthermore, sustainable agriculture that protects water resources even more can be achieved through additional technologies from team members like AKVA group, Viscon, Bucher, and others, whose specialties include land-based Aquaculture, Aquaponics, and food processing. These systems innovate food production on industrial scales, allowing farmers, communities, and other stakeholders to maximize their resources while reducing or eliminating their negative environmental impacts.
Featuring smaller footprints and lower maintenance requirements than traditional [municipal] wastewater treatment plants, Team Gemini and its team members offer ways to tackle pollution and water conservation effectively. With overall water and agriculture needs covered—and options for bio refineries creating additional by-products that offer value—an extensive number of choices is available to support new environmental protection measures while at the same time increasing resources for existing communities and industries.
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The original article on this topic can be found at this link.