Growing Food Demand Strains Energy, Water Supplies

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The northern region of Gujarat State in western India (map) is semi-arid and prone to droughts, receiving almost all of its rain during the monsoon season between June and September.

But for the past three decades, many crop and dairy farms have remained green—even during the dry season.

That’s
because farmers have invested in wells and pumps, using massive amounts
of electricity to extract water from deep aquifers. The government has
artificially propped up the agricultural sector through power subsidies
and price supports.

The pumping hasn’t occurred without dire
environmental impacts. Groundwater tables have fallen precipitously, 600
feet below the ground in some places, requiring even more powerful
pumps to bring water to the surface. Over-consumption has taxed the
power grid, constraining the electricity available for others.

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