Groundwater recharge

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Groundwater, water table and aquifers refer to water in the soil and rock below ground level. Understanding how these terms differ helps to appreciate the way the water we see in the area of wetlands is inherently linked to the processes taking place beneath the surface, potentially it affects the lives and means of sustenance of human beings.

The water table is the level below which the soil and rocks are permanently wet or saturated. The depth of the water table below the ground surface usually varies, rising and decreasing depending on seasonal rainfall and water flow extracted by people for drinking or irrigation. The water below the water table is called groundwater.

An aquifer is the name given to a defined area of rock or sediment containing abundant groundwater in its pores, cracks or fissures. Aquifers can be considered vast natural repositories where groundwater is stored. The groundwater contained in aquifers represents 95% of available fresh water on the planet and is the source of drinking water for nearly a third of the world population.

It is often thought that wetlands act as natural sponges, absorbing rainfall and subsequent percolation into the ground. In reality, the relationship between groundwater and wetlands is rather more complicated. Some wetlands may have no contact with groundwater; for example, a lake that has formed on an impermeable clay soil, while others directly due to groundwater returns to the surface, either by springs or by areas of more general filtration their existence.

Other wetland sediments rest on permeable aquifers located above. In this case, wetland water can seep through the soil and rocks into the aquifer, to keep playing a central water-filled or refilled paper; so that groundwater continues to be available to other ecosystems and human consumption. Finally, some wetlands may act as recharge areas of groundwater when the water table is low, and as discharge zones of groundwater when the level is high.

So the importance of relations between groundwater and wetlands (both above ground and below it) is evident and has developed guidance on the management of groundwater in relation to wetlands.

Apart from the supporting role of fisheries, agriculture and forestry, wetlands play Tortuguero Conservation Area, played a very different recharge aquifers that support to the eventual decrease in rainfall in agricultural production and human consumption.

Today, we face a serious problem of groundwater resources due to overexploitation of aquifers, a drastic decline has occurred in groundwater levels, caused mainly by the rapid growth of unregulated pumping of groundwater. Not only this has caused tensions between water users, but has also caused the disappearance of wetlands, formerly fed with spring water, which used to support a rich biodiversity.

Globally, groundwater deficits pose major problems today in many countries, increasing fears regarding supplies of drinking water and food security and the welfare of wetland ecosystems and the media livelihood of the people, plants and animals that depend on them.


If the water we see in wetlands found on the surface of the Earth, such as swamps, lakes and streams, is only part of the hydrological cycle, which also includes atmospheric water (clouds and rain water and snow) and ground water (water found in soil and rocks under the ground surface).
S Many wetlands are directly related to groundwater and play an essential role in regulating the quantity and quality of groundwater, which is often an important source of water for drinking and irrigation fields.
S The unsustainable extraction of groundwater for human consumption threatens the very existence of some wetlands -e recklessly endangering the communities that depend on that water for daily household use.


Biol. Ana María Monge Ortiz


Fuente: Modificado de Ramsar.

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