Instagram posts – No, there isn’t an unlimited supply of water being made underneath the Earth

Instagram posts – No, there isn’t an unlimited supply of water being made underneath the Earth

Climate change has resulted in drier and hotter weather around the world. It has exacerbated a growing water crisis that experts say puts drought-prone areas at risk for longer and more severe water shortages.

But a recent Instagram video implies there’s nothing to worry about. Earth is generating an unlimited supply of water, a man floating in a lake says in the video.

“There’s water deep within the Earth, which is always coming up all the time, and is the combination of hydrogen and oxygen to create water, so that we have unlimited water,” the man says as he bobs while wearing a personal floatation device. 

“We get fooled because we think that because it stops raining that we’re running out of water — but that’s actually the secondary water cycle … So it can have the illusion that we’re running out of water. But in reality water is coming out of the Earth 24/7, 365 (days a year), when hydrogen and oxygen are mixing together to come up through the water veins right up into the earth.”

The Instagram post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. Instagram is owned by Facebook’s parent company, Meta. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

The video oversimplifies the complexity of the Earth’s water supply and the reasons scientists warn about a water crisis in some parts of the globe. Hydrogen and oxygen do combine to make water. And there is water underground in the form of groundwater, but it’s not being spontaneously created, as the video claims. 

Greg Pierce, co-director of the Water Resources Group at the University of California, Los Angeles, and an adjunct assistant professor in its urban planning department, said the video’s overall message is wrong in its understanding of how water works.

Groundwater occurs when the water from rain or melted snow and ice is absorbed into the soil and stored in small spaces between rocks and other sediment, according to an explainer from the Environmental Protection Agency.

An aquifer can form underground, storing water that can then be pumped out for use.

Sources of groundwater can be found between 10 feet underground to several thousands of feet underground.

Pierce said there is plentiful, untapped water deep underground. But it’s not realistic to suggest that it’s simply there for the taking.. Not only would it be prohibitively expensive to drill to the deepest sources of groundwater in the Earth, but also the technology  to do so isn’t available.

“Going beyond even five hundred feet is costly. And if you go beyond a few thousand, which is where most of the water that’s ‘untapped’ is, we barely have the technology,” he said. “There are also some concerns around destabilizing (the geology of an area) if you extract at depths that are too low.”

Water is being constantly circulated on the planet from the ground to the atmosphere, and back again, as part of the hydrologic cycle.

Pierce said the main concern regarding the global water supply stems from the fact that water is being extracted from aquifers faster than it can be replenished. Scientists call this “overdraft,” and it impacts the amount of water available at a specific place at a specific time. 

It’s unknown where Earth’s water originated, but the widely accepted scientific theory is that the planet was struck by asteroids and comets containing ice billions of years ago.

Some sources of groundwater have been built over millions of years, so it would take an equivalent amount of time before it is replenished, Pierce said. Overdraft has led to many aquifers becoming smaller.

“We’re actually collapsing the storage of the aquifer basin where that water was held,” Pierce said. “If you over-extract, it collapses and becomes narrower so you can’t store as much water.”

Norman Miller, a UC Berkeley adjunct professor in geography, said climate change has affected groundwater availability. 

Since the start of the Industrial Revolution in the mid-1700s, the Earth has experienced rising temperatures. That creates more water vapor in the atmosphere.

“The net result is dry regions become drier and wet regions become wetter, with more intense precipitation when it does precipitate,” Miller said.

Miller said there’s no “deep water emerging magically” from the Earth.

Our ruling

A video claims the world isn’t running out of water because an unlimited supply is being constantly generated underneath the Earth’s surface.

While there is water underground, it’s not being spontaneously generated. It’s the result of rainfall and melted snow and ice seeping into soil and being stored in aquifers. Water is constantly being circulated across the Earth, going from the atmosphere to the surface and back again.

Climate change and over-extracting from an aquifer have an impact on the availability of groundwater in a specific region at a specific time, but it doesn’t mean the world is running out of water. Drier areas are predicted to become drier as a result of less rainfall, while wet areas become wetter because of an increase in rain.

We rate this Mostly False.

Source: PolitiFact.

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