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VW Details Groundwater Project Success

A reforestation project near a Volkswagen plant in Mexico is now contributing more groundwater than the facility, its partner companies’ plants and the households of all employees of the program consume, the German automaker has announced.

Since 2008, the company has supported the reforestation of a total of 750 hectares between the mountains of Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl in the Sierra Volcanica range, in the central Mexican state of Puebla. To date, some 420,000 trees have been planted, all of which are mountain conifers indigenous to Mexico that flourish at elevations up to 4,000 meters, VW says.

Water supplies for Puebla depend largely on precipitation in the mountains to continuously replenish the falling water table. The trees capture precipitation, facilitating the seepage of water to deeper layers in the soil. To support the project, some 47,000 soakaways have been excavated and 350 larger dams constructed, VW says.

The project is already contributing about 2.5 million cubic meters to groundwater replenishment each year. This figure is “significantly in excess” of the water consumption of the Volkswagen facility, its partners and employees, the company says.

The trees also stabilize the ecosystem because new biomass binds carbon dioxide and improves the habitat of indigenous animal species. The project also offers additional employment opportunities for people in the region, VW says.

The reforestation project is being implemented jointly with the Comision Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas and the National University of Mexico.

As water conservation measures fail to meet expectations, industrial facilities, including one owned by ConocoPhillips, are increasingly turning to groundwater as a water source, according the New York Times.

Last summer, as drought gripped large swathes of Texas, ConocoPhillips applied for a permit to tap a well on the property of its Sweeny, Texas, refinery in a bid to replace diminishing supplies in the San Bernard River, its main water source. The permit was approved in January.

The US currently harvests the equal second most groundwater of all countries, according to UNESCO figures released in March. America abstracts 112 cubic km of water a year. This put the US equal with China but behind India, which draws 251 cubic km a year.

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