Document Type


Publication Date

January 1967


Summary: Groundwater development frequently provides a means whereby tremendous new economic opportunities are opened up. If supplies are overdrawn (mined) the ensuing regional economy may be able to affort replacements from more costly sources. In the United States the Salt River Valley of Arizona and the valleys of California provide examples. Two cases are treated in this paper, Israel and West Pakistan. In Israel, besides furnishing more than half of the basic source of water suppply, groundwater development provides opportunity for both quantity and quality management, which makes possible use of surface supplies and reclaimed sewage as firm rather than marginal sources. This development will permit the total water resources of this small country, where agricultural production ranks among the world's most efficient, to be utilized effectively down to almost the last drop by the mid 1970's. Israel must then look to desalted water from the sea for further expansion of its overall water supply. In West Pakistan a combination of level terrain and leaky canals since about 1890 led to threatened waterlogging and salinity of more than 25 million acreas of irrigated land, even though supplies were less than half adequate for good productivity. By the 1950's low yields and increasing population threatened starvation. However, initiation of groundwater development, first by the government and later by pricate entreprise, has, since 1960, let to construction of 3,500 governmental tube wells of about 3 cfs capacity and 30,000 private tube wells of slightly less than 1 cfs capacity. Results have been dramatic. Agricultural production and use of fertilizer are rapidly increasing, and opening of well development of pricate enterprise is providing the irrigator with benefits of free competition for his water custom which he did not previously enjoy. Ultimately, besides providing full supplies for an estimated 26 to 30 million acrea, drainage and salinity problems will be mitigated if about 50 million acre-feet are pumped each year from groundwater including about 28 million acre-feet to be mined from a reserve of about 1,900 million acre-feet. With some difficult surface storage development due to terrain, mining may eventually be reduced. Through an eventual technological solution for the continuing overdraft is not now in sight, perhaps an economy may be built which can affort such a solution when the time comes.