Why does the rate of natural groundwater recharge decrease as urban areas develop



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    The groundwater recharge rates are affected differently in temperate, semi-arid and arid environments. Keeping in mind that the recharge rate is not determined by water availability, but by the infiltration capacity, urban run-off in temperate settings can alter the locality of the recharge. However, the overall effect this has on the groundwater balance is minimal. In fact, since waste water collection systems are commonplace, a 5% deficiency is considered the norm; it should be noted, however, that some urban locations claim a 60% loss, due to imported water from remote catchment areas.

    In a semi-arid environment, the recharge is affected by evaporative transpiration loss in the soil and a rate of particle percolation. The recharge is decreased when the natural filtration process is disrupted, and may even lead to saline water mixing into the water table. 

    In arid environments, some surface run-off is necessary for the recharge to function properly. If the run-off is effectively channeled into a proper filtration system, it can be beneficial to the area. However, if it is not effectively treated, the groundwater can become greatly polluted as a result of the run-off. 

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