How Many People Can an Aquifer Support?
ES1406  Water Sources

Where do people get their water?

US Bureau of Reclamation
US Bureau of Reclamation
Satellite view of clouds
Aquifer cross section

Only a small percentage of Earth's water is actually available for human use at any time. Seawater, ice, and water in the atmosphere account for more than 99% of the water on our planet. The portion that is fresh and available for human use is at Earth's surface—in rivers, lakes, or stored as groundwater, filling up pore spaces or cracks in rocks.

In arid regions, surface water is not available year round, so humans depend on groundwater sources. The Denver metropolitan area is one area where people have been tapping in to underground water for over a century. In this investigation, you'll analyze changes in the water level of the Arapahoe aquifer, one of the major aquifers of the Denver Basin aquifer system.

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